Consistently getting a good night’s sleep can help you lead a healthier, happier life. The amount of sleep needed varies greatly for different people, but the quality of sleep is important for everyone. About one-third of the adults in the country experience insomnia to some degree at any time, so if you have trouble sleeping, you are not alone. Making a few changes in your daily routine may be your answer to getting the refreshing sleep you need.
Keeping a regular, consistent schedule regarding bedtime is the most important method of getting good sleep every night. Make a habit of going to bed the same time each night and getting up the same time every morning, and stick with the routine even on weekends. Go to bed as soon as possible after you feel tired to avoid tossing and turning.
Aerobic exercise that gets your heart beating faster can help you sleep better at night when you do the exercising at least four hours before bedtime, preferably before dinner. Activities like jogging, brisk walking, bicycling or swimming for 20 minutes to an hour during the day make a good contrast to the quiet time needed for sleep at night.
Some people find that gentle exercises like stretching near bedtime help them sleep better.
Naps lasting only 10 to 30 minutes can be beneficial if they occur no later than the middle of the afternoon. If you get sleepy early in the evening, avoid napping at that time by doing some type of mild activity like calling or emailing friends, taking a leisurely stroll or doing anything that gets you moving about. Napping in the evening can interfere with your sleep during the night because you may wake up after sleeping just a few hours if you have had a late nap.
Your bed should be large enough to allow for stretching and turning comfortably to keep you from waking up with every change of position.
Waking in the mornings with an aching back or a sore neck is an indication that you may need to use a different pillow, a foam mattress topper or even a new folding mattress. Try experimenting with different levels of firmness to determine if you need more or less support.
Ideal sleeping temperatures range around 60 degrees. You will sleep better if you use extra blankets to keep warm instead of turning up the heat in your room.
If noises disturb your sleeping, try a white noise machine, or improvise with a running fan or a radio set between stations. If you cannot mask the noise, you may need to wear earplugs like those that people use to protect their ears when working around noisy machinery.
Wear an eye mask if you cannot avoid sleeping in a room where the light from a TV or other sources disturbs your sleep. The biological clock in your brain needs a dark room for the best sleeping conditions, but if necessary, you can create that darkness easily with a simple sleep mask.
6. Eating and Drinking
What you eat and drink, as well as when you eat and drink, can play an important role in how well you sleep.
Eat dinner early in the evening, and do not eat rich, heavy foods within two hours of bedtime. Your digestive system must work harder to process fatty foods, and acidic or spicy foods can cause heartburn and stomach problems that may keep you awake.
Although drinking alcohol before bedtime may help you fall asleep faster, it lowers the quality of your sleep and may cause you to wake up a few hours after going to bed. If you drink alcohol, do so earlier in the evening. Drinking caffeine can be responsible for sleep problems as long as 12 hours after consuming the beverage, so try to avoid drinks that contain caffeine in the afternoon as well as in the evening.
Emotions like stress, anxiety and anger can keep you from getting good, restful sleep.
Try to realize how fruitless it is to worry about things that you cannot control, and dismiss those things from your mind. If you are anxious because you have so much to do, learn how to manage your time more efficiently and how to delegate responsibilities.
Anger can keep you awake unnecessarily. When you are in bed, do not allow yourself to think about the anger you may feel. Although angry thoughts harm you, they will not affect the object of your emotion in any way.
Take the time to practice some simple relaxation techniques before going to bed to calm your mind and wind down.
With your eyes closed, take slow, deep breaths, making each breath progressively deeper.
Relax each muscle one at a time, beginning with your toes and ending with your head. Tense every muscle tightly, keep it tense for a moment, then relax it completely before moving on to the next muscle.
Close your eyes, visualize a peaceful, calming activity or place, and concentrate on the relaxation the activity or place gives you.
Meditate and count your blessings, concentrating on even the smallest things for which you can be grateful.
Milk contains tryptophan, a chemical that induces sleep, so a glass of warm milk may help you get better sleep.
Herbal supplements like melatonin, valarian and chamomile may be helpful as well. Your body naturally produces the hormone melatonin at night to help regulate your biological clock, so a melatonin supplement from natural sources may give your brain neurons an extra boost.
10. Professional Help
If you still have sleep problems after trying various remedies, you may need to see a sleep doctor to determine if you have a medical condition causing your difficulty. For example, a common disorder called sleep apnea can cause your airway to close briefly during sleep a few times each night. That condition can make you feel drowsy during the daytime, but a simple device that delivers continuous positive airway pressure as you sleep may relieve the problem.