To many of us, sleep is just something that happens at night, not something we actively work on. But the quality of our sleep affects nearly every other aspect of our lives: physical and mental health, mood, relationships, productivity, decision-making, and more.
If you struggle to fall asleep or frequently wake up during the night, making a few small changes could help you sleep more soundly and feel better during the day.
1. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
It would be nearly impossible to go to sleep and wake up at exactly the same every single day, but striving for a sleep schedule that’s generally consistent will still help stabilize your circadian rhythm. When that happens, your body will actually be ready to go to bed at night and to wake up in the morning. It means making an effort to get up earlier than you might want to on the weekends, but it’ll be worth it.
2. Avoid screens for at least one hour before bed.
Looking at phones, computers, TVs, and other electronic devices before bed will wreak havoc on your sleep quality. And yet, many of us are in the habit of late-night Netflix binging and social media scrolling. Exposure to the blue light emitted by backlit screens makes it harder to fall asleep and makes your sleep less restful. Start setting an alarm for an hour (or even a half hour will help!) before bedtime to remind yourself to put your devices away.
3. Develop a nighttime routine to get ready for bed.
Establishing a consistent nightly routine will help tell your body that it’s time to get ready to sleep, and making a point to do relaxing activities late at night will prime your body for rest. Maybe your routine is something like making a cup of tea and reading a book for fifteen minutes, or maybe it’s a nightly yoga or meditation practice after brushing your teeth. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you can consistently do each night – and make sure it doesn’t involve looking at screens.
4. Keep the bedroom cool.
We all have different temperature preferences (which you probably realize if you’ve ever lived with someone else!), but there is actually a “right” nighttime temperature – and it might be lower than you think. Research has shown that 65 degrees is the ideal temperature for sleeping; warmer temps tend to make people more restless at night. So turn your thermostat down, and add an extra blanket to the bed.
5. Limit your caffeine intake.
For coffee lovers, a cup of java is the only way to start the day – the scent, the taste, the ritual of preparing it. And consumed early in the day and in modest quantities, caffeine shouldn’t have much effect on sleep. But when our morning cup becomes three or four morning cups, or we start adding after-lunch or late-afternoon cups, it can keep us awake at night. Make an effort to limit your caffeine intake to one or two servings, and to avoid it altogether after 2:00pm.