It is 9 pm, perfect time to go to sleep for you so you can wake up bright and early, well rested and ready to face the day; you get into the bed, close your eyes and wait for sleep to take you away. Hours later, at 3 am, you are still wide awake, trying to count sheep or willing yourself to sleep.
Many people have this sleeping problem. Quality, consistent sleep is evasive for quite a number of people. Try as you may, you simply cannot just get enough sleep, or sleep at a designated time. In fact, if sleeping was a talent, most people would be pretty bad at it. So how exactly do you get past this? We have compiled a list of the top ten sleep tips just for you.
1. Bedtime rituals
What do you do right before you sleep? Do you tend to sit in your bed with your laptop trying to finish up some work before you go to sleep? Or scroll through Instagram or another social media sites liking and sharing content. Your bedtime ritual may be the reason for your lack of sleep.
For good sleeping habits, try to have healthier activities done before bedtime. When it is an hour or so to your sleep time, you should think of having a routine, activities that you undertake each day. The aim of the bedtime rituals is to get you in a relaxed mood so you can get sleep quicker and easier. Some of these include:
- Taking a nice, warm bath: A nice bubble bath is also a good idea here. This allows your body temperature to rise then fall and it encourages you to fall asleep easily.
- Read a book. Just get comfortable somewhere nice in the house or even in your bed and get a book to read.
- Simple exercises: You can also try to do relaxation exercises to bring you to a better frame of mind, ridding your mind of stressful thoughts in preparation for sleep.
This time right before you sleep is very crucial for a good night’s sleep. Avoid any kind of activity that will mess up your sleep. Activities to avoid include:
- Using backlit screens such as of smartphones and laptops. These stimulate the brain and may trick it into thinking it is still not the time to sleep yet.
- Work. It may be tempting to do some work you brought home from the office right before you sleep. Yet working your brain makes it alert and it will be that much harder for you to get sleep afterwards.
- Emotional talks. You have all day to talk about this. When it is almost time to sleep, avoid such emotional discussions that will stress your mind and have you thinking about different things deep into the night.
- Any other kind of mentally and physically strenuous activities are to be avoided for better sleeping habits.
2. Sleep Schedule
Have a sleep schedule for every day of the week. Ensure you sleep at this same time every day, including during the weekends. This will train your body to fall asleep at the set time without much struggle.
Sleeping at different times every day will confuse your body, and you may find yourself unable to fall asleep or wake up on time when you really need to.
3. The place of sleep
The area in which you sleep should be conducive to sleep. When you get to your bedroom, your body will detect that it is time to sleep. The room should be preferably free from light. Invest in heavy, dark-colour curtains that do not allow any light in. Noise from outside should also be minimal. You may have soft music playing in the background according to your preference.
In case of a snoring partner or other loud noises, you can get yourself earplugs to drown out the noise, and an eye mask to block any other light, to tell your body it is time for bed. A cool room temperature is advised as it is harder to sleep when it is hot.
If you have a pet that often disrupts your sleep, consider keeping it outside the bedroom at night. This applies for any other disruptive object like television and computers. The
bedroom should be only for sleep and sex, to teach your mind to associate the room with rest.
4. The Bed
Your mattress and pillow also play an important role in your sleeping habits. Comfortability is the key here, so ensure you have a good, supportive mattress. The pillow should keep your neck in a position similar to when you are upright.
Read more: Importance of Sleep
5. Foods and Drinks to avoid
After a hard day’s work, you may be tempted to pass by a bar for a drink or two. Or maybe you are that person who just needs to have a cup of coffee. This may be the last thing you want to hear, but having caffeinated drinks, alcoholic drinks and heavy meals right before you sleep is associated with lack of or inadequate sleep.
Avoid drinks with caffeine, smoking tobacco and heavy meals when it is just hours to your bedtime. The last thing you want is to stimulate your mind when you should be sleeping and have it up and working instead of rested.
“But I’m hungry” you may say. We are not advocating for starvation. If you really need something to eat, get a light snack an hour before your bedtime. We care about your stomach. As for the alcohol, you can have a drink or two, just refrain from over drinking.
6. Exercise during daytime
Exercise is good for you. Who doesn’t want that toned, trim body, to be fit and have a couple of abs? Females love a toned body on a male. Firm thighs are also something most people want. Having regular exercise in the morning or during the day is not only good for that perfect body, but it is also good for your sleeping habits.
Exercise whether vigorous or a bit more toned down is good for you, and it enables you to have deeper sleep. Work out at any time other than when you are about to sleep. It should not disrupt your sleeping pattern.
7. Power naps
Who else loves those power naps during the day? That 5 to 20-minute nap is heavenly when you are having a long, stressful day. But what if we told you that these power naps may be ruining your sleeping habits?
If you are going to take a power nap, make sure it is not in the evening, preferably before 5 pm. Also, ensure it is a short one so it doesn’t affect your night schedule.
8. Sleep when you feel Sleepy
Staying in bed for more than 20 minutes without finding sleep is quite pointless. The longer you stay in bed without sleep, the more time is wasted.
Sometimes if you can’t sleep, the best thing to do would be to get out of the bedroom or the bed and find something else to do while you wait for sleep to come to you.
We are in the age of technology, with apps for almost everything. Why not take advantage of this and use some of these apps in your quest for getting great sleeping habits.
There are apps to track your sleeping habits and you can use them to tweak your sleeping times and rituals as seen fit. Other exciting apps include those that make sounds you relate to sleep such as the sound of rain beating on roofs and other soothing sounds.
10. Get professional help
When all else fails, you may need to take the next step of visiting a professional. Sometimes the reason for your lack of sleep may be a mental disorder such as anxiety or another. This will be diagnosed by your doctor and appropriate measures taken.
Going over your sleeping habits with a professional may help you get the way forward. You may be given prescribed pills, or psychological help to enable you to get a good night’s sleep.
Consider keeping records of your sleeping habits in a diary, a physical one or in an app. You may be able to see a pattern in your sleep and find the habits that enable you to have better sleep.
Finally, the next step for good sleep is following through. Be consistent as you try the different methods. The results may not be instant, so give them time and find which method works best for you. Sleeping habits may work differently for different people. Age, activities undertaken during the day and other factors determine how well you sleep. Generally, have a healthy lifestyle including nutritious foods eaten at the right moments, exercise regularly and maintain sleeping times.
With the aforementioned top 10 sleep tips, you can rest easy and start to plan for a good nights’ sleep from today. Get more insights from the National Sleep Foundation to help you enjoy better sleep.