We can all agree sleep is a good thing, but many of us don’t get enough sleep, or enough quality sleep. While you may put your head on your pillow every night by 10 pm and wake up at 6 am, you may feel groggy when you wake up the next morning. Waking up exhausted usually means you did not have quality sleep. The odds are you tossed and turned all night, even if you don’t remember it.
Consider all the factors that can stop you from sleeping well such as work, family responsibilities, stress, illness, and more. Quality sleep can be hard to come by, especially if you have kids or pets that sleep with you in bed. While you can’t control every factor that interferes with your sleep every night, there are ways to make improvements that will promote better sleep. Here’s how.
STICK TO A SCHEDULE
While the amount of sleep someone needs will differ from person to person, everyone needs a sleep schedule. If you’re someone who finds they function better on seven hours of sleep instead of eight, make sure you keep to that schedule every single day, even on weekends.
Make sure you try not to sleep more than eight hours a night, many people need at least seven hours, but more than eight hours of sleep can actually have the opposite effect and make you feel lethargic throughout the day.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and try not to make changes to this schedule on the weekends, but if you do try to aim for no more than an extra hour. Being consistent trains your body and mind to know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up, meaning you’ll fall asleep quicker and wake up feeling more refreshed.
If you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep at night, leave the bed after 20 minutes of attempting to sleep and do something you find relaxing. This can be listening to soothing music or doing breathing exercises. Try not to turn on the television, as blue light can trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime.
When you’re tired again, try going back to sleep and repeat these steps as needed.
CHANGE YOUR EATING (AND DRINKING HABITS)
You should try to avoid heavy meals within a few hours of bedtime, or your discomfort might keep you awake longer. Other things such as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol can impact your sleep as well. Both nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that can take hours to wear off, making falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. On the other hand, alcohol (even beer) may make you feel sleepy at first, but it can disrupt your sleep cycle even after you’ve fallen asleep. Nourishing your body with proper ingredients and food will promote a healthier lifestyle and sleep pattern.
CONSIDER YOUR SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
Your sleep environment has a big impact on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. The best sleep environments are cold, dark, and quiet places. However, light exposure can make it difficult to fall asleep because it tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Because of this, you should avoid prolonged use of devices like your cell phone and television before going to sleep.
You can also take a look at the items in your sleep environment, such as your bed and pillows. A bed that’s too soft or too firm can interfere with your sleep, while using the wrong pillow can make falling asleep difficult and cause you to wake up with aches and pains in the morning.
If you believe there’s a problem with your mattress, visit a mattress store so you can try out different types of beds to determine the one you find comfortable. If the problem is your pillow, consider the position in which you sleep, how that impacts your sleep quality, and how you feel in the morning. Side sleepers, for example, typically have neck, back, and shoulder pain when using the wrong pillow. This can be easily resolved with a pillow for side sleepers that takes the pressure off the joints for more restful sleep.
Long naps can disrupt your natural sleep cycle. If you need a nap, try to limit it to 30 minutes or less and avoid doing so late in the day or at night. If you work nights, you might require a nap later in the day to help you make up for any sleep you missed due to work.
Exercise can help promote better sleep, but you should avoid getting too active before bed. Instead, aim to have your heaviest, most intense workouts earlier in the day, so you don’t give yourself a boost of cardio energy right before bed.
Stress is one of the most significant factors that can interfere with sleep. If you’re feeling overly stressed, make sure you find ways to manage it, especially before bed. Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but it doesn’t have to impact everything you do, including sleep. No matter what you’re stressed about, you can help calm your mind before bed by doing breathing exercises or writing in a journal. You can also learn stress management techniques that will keep your stress at bay during the day, making it easier to get work done and fall asleep.
BETTER SLEEP IS ACHIEVABLE
Depending on what’s keeping you from getting your best sleep, some of these tips can be beneficial. In some cases, people only struggle with a few sleepless nights. So if you have trouble sleeping most nights, it’s recommended to talk to your health care provider about what could be the cause so they can come up with a treatment plan that allows you to sleep better and feel more refreshed each morning.
Sleep has a direct correlation to your physical and mental health, so it’s important to stop putting off ways that can help you get the best sleep of your life. Once you’ve figured out what works best for you, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your day-to-day life.
Matt Casadona has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Psychology. Matt is passionate about marketing and business strategy and enjoys San Diego life, traveling, and music.