Do you have troubling falling asleep, tossing and turning for several hours before sleep falls? Are you getting much less than the recommended seven hours of sleep or more as a result? Do you wake up feeling as if you’re not rested? Perhaps you hit the snooze alarm until 6 a.m. becomes 7… or even 7:30.
You have plenty of company if so. Approximately one-third of Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep, according to the National Sleep Council.
One of the best things you can do to improve your sleep – both the hours and the quality – is to improve your routine at night. Welcome sleep, don’t push it away! Here are five tips to let you get to sleep soon after you turn in for the night and get a restful sleep.
- Avoid Light-Emitting Electronic Devices
Yes, we know you love your smartphone. Maybe you even take it to your bedside table. After all, if you’ve been told that reading is a good thing to do before bed, you might want to read on a smartphone. That also goes for iPads, e-readers and the whole gamut of small electronic devices.
The only problem is, all those devices emit light. The light plays havoc with your circadian rhythms. It may make it impossible to fall asleep.
Also, the devices may keep pulling you toward wakefulness. The light is direct and bright white, in contrast to bedside lamps. Plus, can you swear you won’t be tempted to check email? Facebook? All of those capabilities pull you toward doing something, not letting go of everything.
- Don’t Drink Caffeine Past Noon
Caffeine can be a major culprit in wakefulness. Most people know this, and slack off toward night. However, even caffeine consumed around noon can make you feel wakeful at bedtime. Be aware, also, that it’s not just coffee that has caffeine. So does tea and certain other foods.
Bottom line? Look closely at labels to see if there’s any caffeine. Experiment with drinking less to see if it has an effect.
- Don’t Eat Fat or Sugar Right Before Bedtime
Foods with a lot of fat and sugar can make you feel sleepy. However, if you eat a lot of them right before bedtime, they can actually interfere with restorative sleep.
Warm water with lemon or soothing noncaffeinated tea may have a good effect. Fat- or sugar-laden foods won’t.
- Establish a Routine
People are creatures of habit. Nowhere is that more true than in sleep routines. If you’re used to waking up at 6 a.m., you likely wake up at that time every day. Ditto 11 a.m.
If you disrupt your own routine by a widely varying bedtime, you aren’t giving your body a chance to get into the groove. Aim for roughly the same time every night. Let your body become habituated to falling asleep at a regular time.
Yes, we know there’s good late-night television. There’s also streaming services and DVDs so you can watch them at a different time.
- Create a Comfortable Space for Sleep
Create a comfortable place where you can sleep. A bed you find inviting will help, as will sheets and duvets.
Monitor the quality of darkness to make sure it’s comfortable. Do lights from outside shine in? Get drapes or blinds – or even a sleep mask. Can you hear the neighbor’s television, or your own, in another room? Think about earplugs. Your room needs to be conducive to sleep.
On average, people need seven hours or more of sleep. If you avoid bright electronic devices, follow good food consumption habits, establish a routine and sleep in a comfortable place, you will be ready to tackle your day come morning.