Getting the Most of Your Sleep Every Night
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life.
How you feel – and how well you function – during the day is directly related to the amount and quality of sleep you get at night. However, most people don’t get enough sleep.
For optimal health, most adults need 7-to-9 hours of quality sleep per night. According to The Better Sleep Council, nearly 50% of Americans are falling way short of that. Here are 9 ways to get better sleep – starting tonight:
1. Set a sleep schedule – and stick to it
Sticking to a regular sleep schedule is perhaps one of the best things you can do to improve sleep. But it also may be one of the most difficult. As tempting as it may be to stay up late on Friday night and then sleep in on Saturday, it’s important to go to bed at the same time every single night and get up at the same time each morning. A regular sleep schedule helps to regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep when you need to.
2. Enhance your sleep environment
Your bedroom should be designed to promote sleep. That means it should be dark, quiet, and free of clutter and other distractions. Invest in room-darkening shades to minimize outside light. Keep the room as quiet as possible at night. Don’t sleep with the radio playing or the television on. If you can’t eliminate nighttime noise (like city traffic or barking dogs), try masking it with ambient noise, such as a sound machine or fan. And be sure to keep your bedroom clutter-free. A cluttered space makes for a cluttered and anxious mind, which is hardly conducive to quality sleep. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary where you can relax and rejuvenate.
3. Keep it cool
Sleep experts recommend that you keep your bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. As you fall into deeper sleep, your core body temperature decreases. Going to bed in a cooler room can help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly.
4. Get comfortable
Make sure your bed is comfortable and that you have enough room to stretch and turn comfortably without bumping into your sleeping partner. Your mattress should be 6 inches longer than the tallest person sleeping in it. And partners should be able to rest both hands behind their head (elbows sprawled) without bumping into each other.
Your mattress should be both comfortable and supportive. You should get a mattress that is the right fit for your sleep style. If you don’t know what that is, a qualified sleep consultant can help you figure that out. If you often wake up with a back, hip, or neck pain, it may be time for a new mattress. In general, you should replace your mattress every 7 to 10 years. If you and your partner have different sleep schedules and inadvertently wake each other up, you may want to consider an adjustable bed.
Don’t forget about your bedding and pillows. To improve sleep, you should invest in a good quality pillow that supports your head and neck. The type of pillow you use also will depend on your preferred sleep position. In addition, your sheets and bedding should be cozy, but not too heavy or warm.
5. Reserve your bedroom for bedroom activities only
If you associate your bedroom with things that create anxiety, like work or household chores, it will make it harder for you to relax at night. Keep televisions, computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices out of the bedroom. The light they emit can disrupt normal sleep patterns.
6. Watch what you eat and drink
Stay away from eating big meals within a couple hours of bedtime. Some foods can take a while to digest, which may keep you awake at night. And this may be common sense, but avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening as well, unless you want to be making frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.
Though many people believe a nightcap will help improve sleep, it actually has the opposite effect. Alcohol may make you drowsy, but it also reduces sleep quality. So it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol before bed. You should also cut back on caffeine consumption during the day. Caffeine takes a surprisingly long time to clear your system, which means even an early afternoon cup of joe can keep you awake well after bedtime.
7. Get better sleep by exercising
Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality. Just don’t exercise too late in the day, which may make you too energized to fall asleep at bedtime.
8. Engage in a relaxing bedtime ritual
Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so engage in a relaxing nighttime ritual to help cue your brain and your body that it’s time for sleep. Spend the last hour or so before bed enjoying a calming activity, like reading a book or listening to relaxing music.
9. Find ways to manage stress and anxiety
Stress, worry, and anxiety from your day can carry over into the night, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep. And they may even keep you tossing and turning throughout the night. In order to improve sleep quality, it’s important to find ways to manage stress. Whether it’s through yoga, meditation, or simply being more organized, getting a handle on your stress can help you sleep better at night.
For more tips on how to get a better night’s sleep, as well as how to choose the right mattress for your sleep style, download our free eBook below.