Imagine if you could wake up every morning feeling more rested.
Or, even better: if you could have clearer thinking and more energy throughout the day.
Well, you can… by getting a better night’s sleep.
Here are 17 things to help you sleep better. (that work and you can start doing today)
1. Reduce or Eliminate All Noise & Light
This may seem all too obvious, but it is overlooked more often than not. Reduce all distractions that may keep you from falling asleep or disturb your sleep.
Getting rid of or blocking noisy obstacles to falling asleep and sleeping peacefully is important. You may want to look into ear muffs or ear plugs to block out unwanted noise.
Another option is to mask noise. (we will discuss that later).
Eliminating light is important. The darker, the better.
If you have a bedroom facing the rising sun, it may be necessary to use blackout curtains. Blackout curtains block out almost all light (like they use in hotel rooms).
Likewise, eye masks can help keep out the morning sun until you are ready to rise.
2. Get a Good Pillow
This is good advice…
A pillow should be designed to support your head and neck in a neutral position aligned with the rest of your spine. The necessary height of your pillow will vary depending on the position you sleep in, which depending on your spinal health, should either be your side or your back.
Your pillow should provide lasting support to your head and neck, without continually needing to adjust your sleeping position to get comfortable. [Via backtobasicschiropractic.com.au]
A good pillow should be comfortable, give support and keep your head elevated.
Keeping the head elevated can help sinuses drain properly during the night. This helps with sleep and avoids possible sinus infections, especially for those that suffer from allergies.
3. Keep the Room Temperature Cool
Is there an ideal temperature for sleeping?
Dr. Christopher Winter, Medical Director at Charlottesville Neurology & Sleep Medicine, says your bedroom should be between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. Temperatures above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees can disrupt sleep. [Via simplemost.com]
High temperatures are bad for sleeping. But, very cold temperatures are not good either.
I am sure we all have experienced sleeping in both too hot and too cold at some point. Ideally, when possible, keep the room temperature where you sleep cool.
4. Consider Using White Noise
What is white noise?
White noise works by reducing the difference between background sounds and a “peak” sound, like a door slamming, giving you a better chance to sleep through it undisturbed. If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, creating a constant ambient sound could help mask activity from inside and outside the house. [Via sleepfoundation.org]
Another way of describing white noise (where things to help you sleep better is concerned) is a masking noise to help block out other noises. A fan is a good choice for white noise.
Or better yet, an air purifier. Purifying the air will help to remove allergens that can affect sleep.
Some believe that, after awhile, the sound of white noise actually triggers the mind and body to get ready for sleep.
5. Reduce Your General Stress Level
Reducing overall stress is a factor that may be hard to control, but is important for sleep.
Stress can impact your life in many ways, including negatively affecting the quality of your sleep. It makes sense: You lie in bed, worrying and feeling anxious, which makes it almost impossible to relax and quiet your mind enough to fall asleep.
It’s no wonder people use the phrase “losing sleep over something.”That’s also why people who suffer from chronic stress day in and day out sleep less, have poorer sleep quality, and find it harder to function well during the day. Via sleep.org
And then not sleeping can cause irritability during the day and raise stress levels even more, causing a cycle that can spin out of control.
6. Learn How to Quiet the Mind
A well known cause for sleeplessness (as mentioned above) and restless nights is stress, depression and anxiety. One thing that can help everyone sleep better, including depression and anxiety sufferers, is quieting the mind.
What do we mean by quieting the mind? Basically, it means quieting your thoughts until you have no thoughts at all, or guiding your thoughts.
Say what? How is this possible?
One of the best practical ways has these 3 steps:
Step 1: Identify the Trigger.
Step 2: Distinguish What You Can Control and What You CAN’T control.
Step 3: Plan the Action & Breathe
Yes, quieting the mind is possible and does work. It can also be learned through some meditation techniques, but any general meditation that focuses on quieting the mind is beneficial.
7. Create a Relaxation Period Before Bed
Having a set time period before bed where you set the mood for sleep is important.
At least 20 minutes before you go to bed avoid any type of physical or mental stimulation. Avoid bright light from TVs and smartphones. Do something relaxing, boring or just not very stimulating.
The goal of the wind down period is to transition from your normal alert state of mind to one that’s much more relaxed. By going to bed only when you’re already feeling relaxed you’ll be able to fall asleep much quicker and easier at night. Via sleephabits.net
8. Foods You May Want to Eat Before Bed
Ever go to bed hungry and then not be able to go to sleep because you’re starving? Going to bed hungry is not suggested if you want to sleep well, but then neither is going to bed on a full stomach.
A very light or moderate snack before bed is probably best. And if you are going to eat before bed, you may want to try foods that contain tryptophan (known to cause drowsiness). Foods that contain tryptophan are: bananas, milk, cheese, nuts, pineapple, eggs and turkey.
9. Avoid Eating Certain Foods Before Bed
Foods that act as stimulants are certainly not good to eat before bedtime. Of course, known stimulants like coffee are not advised.
Also, avoid any foods that have lots of sugar. Avoid foods that contain lots of fats.
Avoid alcohol before sleep.
“Alcohol may seem to be helping you to sleep, as it helps induce sleep, but overall it is more disruptive to sleep, particularly in the second half of the night,” says researcher Irshaad Ebrahim. He is the medical director at The London Sleep Centre in the U.K. “Alcohol also suppresses breathing and can precipitate sleep apnea,” or pauses in breathing that happen throughout the night. [Via webmd.com]
And remember… don’t eat a big meal or any big snacks before going to bed.
10. Avoid Napping During the Day
Many people can take a nap without unwanted effects. This is especially true if you are not getting enough sleep at night to meet your sleep needs. But…
Naps that are more prolonged (such as more than 30-45 minutes) or that occur close to your intended bedtime can compromise your ability to fall or stay asleep at night. This resulting insomnia is due to a diminished sleep drive.
By staying awake for a longer period, the desire for sleep builds with increasing adenosine levels. However, sleep (naps) can clear away the adenosine and other neurotransmitters that cause sleepiness. [Via verywell.com]
Naps also have a tendency to disrupt your sleep schedule.
11. Consider Stretching Before Bed
Stretching before bed can help to relax major muscle groups, reducing stress and resulting in a better night’s sleep.
“Stretching not only relaxes you, it also keeps your muscles flexible so you’re less likely to experience discomfort during everyday activities,” says Sarah Levey, instructor at Y7 Studio in New York City.
And doing it before bed can greatly impact and benefit the sleep your body gets throughout the night. “It allows you to release some of the tension you’ve built up during the day so you can prepare both your body and mind for a good night’s sleep,” says Levey. [Via shape.com]
12. Establish a Regular Schedule of Waking and Sleeping
A regular schedule of sleep? Why?
Regular sleep, and adequate sleep periods (7-9 hours) can help with stamina, improve memory, heal the body’s tissues and many more benefits.
To get to the parts of sleep that benefit the mind and body, you need to have a good sleep rhythm, or pattern.
But what is healthy sleep? It’s having the proper amount and quality of REM cycles and non-REM cycles throughout the night. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement, which is the stage of sleep where, interestingly enough, your brain waves are closest to how they are when you’re awake. This seems counter-intuitive because the REM stage is when your body does most of its repairing, and is often thought of as “deep sleep.”
In order to have a healthy sleep pattern, it’s important to go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day.
This will allow for consistent REM cycles throughout the week, and will make it easier to wake up in the morning, go to bed at night and feel refreshed and energized throughout the day. If you can, skip the alarm and get up right when you naturally awake — this will help you feel refreshed after a night’s sleep instead of sleeping for eight hours and then thinking, Why am I so tired? [Via dailynexus.com]
How do you get set up on good sleep schedule? Many of the things in this list will help you do just that.
The next thing to help you sleep better can help reset your internal clock and help with your sleep pattern.
13. Consider Using Natural Supplements
One such supplement is melatonin, which is a hormone.
We produce our own melatonin, but sometimes it helps to reset our internal closk by supplementing. Melatonin is not for insomnia.
“Your body produces melatonin naturally. It doesn’t make you sleep, but as melatonin levels rise in the evening it puts you into a state of quiet wakefulness that helps promote sleep,” explains Johns Hopkins sleep expert Luis F. Buenaver, Ph.D., C.B.S.M.
“Melatonin levels rise about two hours before bedtime,” Buenaver says. “Create optimal conditions for it to do its job by keeping the lights low before bed. Stop using your computer, smartphone or tablet—the blue and green light from these devices can neutralize melatonin’s effects.” [Via hopkinsmedicine.org]
If you do take melatonin, take 1 to 3 milligrams two hours before bedtime. Less is more in this case.
Another supplement to consider is passion flower.
When we have anxiety, it (passion flower) can greatly affect how we sleep because you just cannot seem to turn the brain off — especially while you’re trying to rest. Passion flower can provide the calming effect needed to help stop that vicious circle of thought. [Via draxe.com]
14. Select the Proper Sleepwear
Sleep comfort is vital for a good night’s sleep. Selecting the right sleepwear can be the difference between a good night’s rest and no rest at all.
To get deep and restorative sleep, Dr. Elliott Alpher of The Alpher Center agrees that temperature is key — but his No. 1 tip is to sleep nude, since clothing can provide enough insulation to cause overheating. If you’re a never-nude (or just a never-sleep-nude), he recommends you opt for “silk and organic loose, flowing materials.”
For maximum luxury, try this silk charmeuse pajama set from Christine Lingerie, or this 100 percent silk duo from Julianna Rae. Dr. Alpher describes silk as a “magical thermoregulator that can keep you warm when you’re cold and cool when you’re hot.”
If you’re not willing or able to shell out for silk, try bamboo, which is both moisture-wicking and hypoallergenic. Yala has some great minimalist options, or check out surfer-chic Australian brand Chalmers. [Via racked.com]
Comfort is the key for sleepwear. Make sure your sleep wear is not too loose or too tight. Also, that the sleepwear does not stick to you or your sheets where they may cause binding.
15. Good Sheets Can Help
A good sleep surface can be a big help for sleep comfort. Sheets can come between you and good sleep – literally.
Sheets that are too itchy, too stiff, too loose, too hot or that stick to you – all can cause loss of good sleep.
Good sheets should be durable, well-fitted, cooling, and comfortable.
16. Keep the Bed and Bedroom Clean
Is it possible that the sleep environment can make a difference?
Yes, definitely. Here are some points to consider.
A cluttered room can lead to a cluttered mind because of distractions.
If you’ve ever gone to bed feeling a little guilty about your bedroom’s untidiness, there’s a good chance that clutter interfered with your sleep.
“A messy area symbolizes unfinished business and keeps your mind in an anxious state,” says Jayme Barrett, the author of Feng Shui Your Life.
People spend about 1/3 of their lives in the bedroom, which is more than the time spent in any other space in the home. It’s a room that should be designed to make you feel rested and relaxed, which clutter works against. Your brain will always want to clean clutter, and the anxiety of mess will prevent you from fully recharging.
A recent study by St. Lawrence University in New York found that participants at risk of hoarding disorder sleep worse than those who don’t have a lot of clutter. [Via makespace.com]
Another point to consider is dust control. Controlling dust means dust mite control and helps with allergies.
17. Get a Good Mattress
A good sleeping surface is critical for a good night’s rest. It should provide support and at the same time be comfortable.
Of all the things to help you sleep better, this is probably the most important.
In a 2011 poll, the National Sleep Foundation found that 92 percent of people say a comfortable mattress is important to a good night’s sleep.
You might be tempted to blame your budget for continuing to doze on a less-than-ideal mattress, but considering just a little bit more shut-eye can help you lose weight, improve your memory and live longer, can you really put a price tag on good sleep? Via huffingtonpost.com
Remember, we sleep 1/3 of our entire lives and what we sleep on matters.
“A mattress is so important since it’s the one thing that is closer to us than anything else when we are sleeping, during that one-third of our lifetime,” says Dr. Neil Kline, a board certified sleep physician and a spokesperson for the American Sleep Association.
“During the day, we can [consciously] adjust our positions and change our behavior, but at night we cannot. We really depend on our mattress,” says Bart Haex, a professor of biomechanics at the University of Leuven in Belgium. [Via dailyburn.com]
There are many types of mattresses to choose from today. The most popular are the foam and memory foam mattresses.
If you can’t accomplish all of these things to help you sleep better, then do as many as you can.
As you work through them, hopefully your sleep will improve and give you more energy and focus to keep working on the entire list.
Don’t forget, sleep is directly tied to the health of your mind and body, and especially your immune system. Without sleep, your health will suffer.
Get the recommended amount of sleep you need and stay healthy, feel better and have better mental clarity.