Normal humans spend an average of 24 years of their lives sleeping. A good sleep routine makes you healthier, increases the concentration in work, boosts mood, makes you look radiant, and most importantly increases your life span. For most people though, making the best of their sleep schedules is not easy. Here are 25 of the best tips for making you sleep better, and utilize your naptimes fully.
1- Buy a Good Mattress
Nothing aids sleep like a good mattress. Buying a good mattress that is tailored to suit your body’s unique preferences will ensure you never spend another night sleepless from discomfort. Try finding the mattress that is right for you. Remember, it is what you will spend one third of your life on, make sure it is worth your while!
2- Spend a Week Outside With Mother Nature
Going camping outdoors for a week will let your body’s internal clock adjust to the solar clock making it return to its organic pattern of sleep; meaning that you will sleep and wake up at the time mother nature always intended for you to sleep and wake up at. This can give you a fair idea of how much time your body naturally requires to rest, so even when you return back to your busy life you can set a minimum sleep time to shoot for. Not only that, spending time outdoors will let you be away from the constant din of modern machines and artificial lights, and hence will be a good way to sleep off your sleep debts.
3-Invest In a Comfortable Night-Dress
Buying good quality pajamas will give your body the much needed comfort required at bedtime. Putting on a specific night-dress to bed will give your mind the signal to prepare the body for sleep, hence it will automatically act as a precursor to making your eyelids feel heavy.
4- Take a Balanced Diet
A good diet makes for a good night’s sleep. Good food is linked to good dreams, research suggests. Cut down on the protein intake right before bed as it takes longer to digest. Avoid spicy foods and carbonated drinks to prevent heartburn and flatulence in the middle of night.
Exercising is one of the best ways to detoxify body, which in turn helps you sleep better. Researchers have found that people who exercise daily sleep much better than those who don’t. Make a workout schedule that you can easily follow and stick to it. Try not to exercise too close to the bed time, however, as it makes falling asleep immediately afterwards all the more harder.
6- Follow a Consistent Routine
The human body is naturally built to support a regular schedule following the solar night and solar day time patterns. Ideally you should follow that standard but because of many constraints on our lifestyles following this schedule is not possible. What you can do, however, is try to maintain a consistent routine that involves waking up and going to sleep the same time every day without exceptions, even during vacations. This makes your body adjust to a specific schedule and tune your internal clock so you don’t need an alarm clock to rise up at the same time every day!
7- Maintain Your Schedule for Waking Up
Despite late nights, try waking up at the same time every day. Remember, waking up is a voluntary job while falling asleep is not. Waking up early will let you fall asleep early as well and thus allow you to stick to your sleep routine. If you allow yourself to sleep in late, you will push your bed-time to much later in the day too and thus mess up your whole routine.
8- Keep the alarm clock as far away from the bed as possible
In keeping the alarm clock close to the bed it is really convenient to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep, NEVER do this. Giving yourself extra time to sleep after your body has once gotten up already makes it start another sleep cycle altogether and you end up feeling even lazier than you would have if you had woken up on the first ring. Keep your alarm clock as far from the bed as possible so you can both hear it and also have to physically reach it to turn it off.
9- Allow sunlight to reach through
Push back your curtains and bathe in the sun’s glorious rays. When you wake up, expose yourself to bright light as soon as you can. Lights ranging from the blue end of the color spectrum help your brain release cortisol and stop releasing melatonin to make you feel more wide awake. If natural light is not available at the time you rise and shine, try staring at your PDA screens to help you wake up. A research suggests that light may help regulate your metabolism as well. The idea is to expose your body to as much bright light as possible between 8 am and 12 pm to invigorate your body.
10- Cut back on caffeine near your bedtime
Avoid the intake of caffeine late in the day. Caffeine tends to stay in your system for 3-5 hours on average, so if you have to take your daily coffee shots make sure to take them well ahead of your bed-time to avoid sleeplessness late in the night.
11- Avoid alcohol
To add to the list of the disadvantages of consuming alcohol, a nightcap before bedtime can significantly decrease sleep-time productivity so you end up feeling more hung up and less rested.
12- Try fasting intermittently
According to research fasting intermittently will make you sleep better. Try skipping a meal once a few weeks, and eat at different hours than you normally would. Eat, then stop, then eat again. Not only does intermittent fasting help in healthy weight loss, it also aids sleeping.
13- Filter out blue light later in the day
As mentioned earlier, blue light sends the signal to the brain to stop releasing melatonin. Try shutting down all sources of artificial light right before bedtime, and if you must absolutely use electronic screens before bed then try installing apps that filter out blue light. F.lux and twilight are two apps that are made specifically for this purpose; they adjust the screens to cut down the blue light emanating from them.
14- Take a hot-to-cold shower before bed
One hour before your bed time take a shower with water temperature fluctuating from hot to cold. This induces sleepiness, and will help you catch the z’s much easier.
15- Create a bedtime regimen
Create a bed time routine that you follow every night religiously before bed. Shower, change into your pajamas, brush your teeth, read a book till you fall asleep; this will make your body associate the routine with sleep and thus prepare itself in advance to go to bed and you will fall asleep much easier every night.
16- Take a light snack before bed
Going to bed hungry is more likely to make you end up waking up in the middle of the night than when you snack on light carbohydrate laden food as it increases tryptophan in the body and regulates its circadian rhythm, studies suggest. Take a glass of warm milk, a bowl of cereal or peanut butter on toast and you are good to go. Try keeping it under 30 grams, a full meal right before bedtime will take longer to digest and interfere with the effect of tryptophan.
17- Lower the thermostat before bedtime
Our bodies lose temperature as we fall asleep deeper. Cooler rooms help us lose temperature faster and hence allow us to fall asleep faster as well. To optimize your sleep time, try keeping the room heater’s temperature lower. Your body and your wallet will both thank you later. For those who live in hotter areas, a room fan or an air conditioner can work wonders to help you sleep as well.
18- Associate your bed with calming thoughts
Try meditating in bed. Not only does this help calm your brain down to sleep but also sends out the message to the body every time you lie down on it that it is time to sleep. Hence your body starts to associate the bed with sleep much like a bedtime routine would do.
19- Never eat in bed
Your bed should be meant for one thing and one thing only, and that is to sleep. Try not to work in bed, and never eat in bed. By eating in bed you confuse your body’s idea of what to expect once in the bed, and you would not be able to fall asleep immediately when you lie down.
20- Sleep in the dark
Cover your windows with total black out curtain panels, or invest in good quality eye-masks. If you can sleep outdoors under the natural skylight, try doing that. Turning off all the lights in the house not only cuts down your electricity bills but also makes sure no stray white light enters your bed room to disrupt your sleep cycle.
21- Take a break if you can’t fall asleep immediately
If you can’t sleep right away, try taking a break. Go out, drink a glass of water, take a walk under the stars, do anything but sleep till you feel sleepy enough to go back to bed. This keeps the frustration of not being able to sleep away from the bed.
22- Sleep with continuous white noise in the background
The steady whir of an electric fan, the sound of crickets chirping, the constant drip of raindrops on your pavement-all of these constitute white noise. White noise has been noted to help people sleep more soundly. The reason might be that it masks the sounds that would otherwise contrast with silence more loudly and startle you out of sleep. Another theory is that it is similar to the kind of noise we were exposed to while in the womb. In any case, try sleeping in an environment that naturally produces white noise. Turning on the fan can help as well, whereas an expensive alternate is to keep a bedside white noise maker that adds white noise in the background to let you sleep without disturbance.
23- Use pulsating blue night lights
A device called Nightwave Sleep assistant projects blue lights on the ceiling in a progression of light pulses. Timing your breathing to the pulses acts much like counting sheep would, and have you sound asleep in a matter of minutes. Use this every now and then when your mind feels like it is on a sugar rush, and sleep shall come easily to you even in the most difficult of times.
24- Relax and Tense your muscles periodically before bed
Focus individually on each muscle in your body starting from your toes to the top of your head, periodically tensing and releasing each of them. This helps release knots in the body and also allows you to divert your attention to something trivial so that you can let go of the day’s stress and sleep easier.
25- Forego sleeping pills, take melatonin supplements
Use sleeping pills as the last resort to treat your sleep disorders. Sleeping pills cause dependence and many other unwanted side effects. They also reduce the quality of sleep, and you end up waking up a lot crankier than normal. Explore all other options before resorting to using sleeping pills. Taking melatonin or ZMA supplements about 30 minutes before bedtime will help you get in the deeper phase of sleep cycle faster and help you wake up more refreshed.