25 Ways to Improve Your Sleep
25 Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important physiological processes we do and finding ways to improve your sleep is easier than ever before. We can thank the advance of sleep monitoring and tracking technology for that, but there are also several classic ways to improve your sleep that don't require any sleep tech. In this article, we're going to explore some of the reasons why getting the right amounts of good quality sleep is important, along with some of the best ways to improve your sleep.
It's important to establish what we mean when we say quality sleep and the right amount of sleep. If you don't know how many hours of sleep you should be getting each night for ideal health conditions, it depends on your age. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults need 7 or more hours of sleep each night. Teenagers up to the age of 18 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old need 9 to 12 hours of sleep, and so on. The hours of sleep needed per age group continues to increase as the age decreases, so we need more sleep when we're younger, probably to support the demands of a growing body.
Getting the right amount of hours of sleep is great and all, but it's not just the quantity of your sleep hours that's important. The quality of your sleep during those hours spent sleeping is just as important. Unfortunately, getting enough quality sleep is difficult for many adults, as well as children.
The American Sleep Association reports that 50 to 70 million adults in the United States suffer from some sort of sleep disorder, and 35% of adults admit to consistently getting less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night.
Some people might think that not getting enough sleep is ok, but it's really not. The CDC has linked several major chronic health conditions to not getting enough sleep. Adults who don't get the recommended amount of 7 hours of sleep per night reported prevalence in 10 different chronic health conditions. Some of these health conditions included arthritis, depression, asthma, and diabetes, but also coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and chronic kidney disease. Those are some serious health conditions you do not want to have, which makes improving your sleep a very important matter.
With sleep being so important for our health and so many people not sleeping well, it's no wonder we all seem to be looking for new ways to help improve our sleep, so let's go ahead and dive right into our tips for sleeping better. These are going to be some of our best tips for getting enough sleep, as well as tips for getting quality sleep. Among these ways to get better sleep, you'll discover tips to fall asleep faster, and tips to stay asleep longer, ensuring you maximize all of the health benefits that come from sleep.
25 Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Pick a bedtime and stick to it
Going to bed at the same time every night helps regulate your circadian rhythm. This is our body's internal clock that controls our sleep cycles. When you go to bed at the same time every night it helps your internal clock know what time it is. By having a consistent bedtime, your body will start to know what time you go to bed. Once it learns this, your body will adapt to start preparing for sleep at that time by producing the sleep hormone melatonin.
Wake at the same time every morning
This one ties back into picking a specific bedtime and sticking to it. Getting up at the same time every morning, yes even on the weekends, is going to help program your internal clock. The more in-tune your circadian rhythm is with your lifestyle, like when you go to bed and when you wake up, the easier its job is to help you fall asleep and stay asleep naturally.
This is one is an easy one. Caffeine in coffee, teas, and energy drinks is known to keep people awake. Caffeine takes a while for the body to process. Research shows that even 6 hours after consuming caffeine, half of it will still be in your body, and it can take up to 10 hours for caffeine to be completely gone. Because of this, caffeine consumption should be limited during the day and avoided completely in the late afternoons and evenings.
Trying things like decaffeinated coffee, or teas and beverages without caffeine are great options for limiting how much caffeine you consume during the day, or before bed. This will help makes sure you aren't bouncing off the walls come bedtime.
Avoiding alcohol before bed is another easy tip for falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. Alcohol does have a sedative effect, but it's not a good one. Alcohol can disrupt your natural sleep cycles and is shown to cause difficulty breathing while sleeping. This can contribute to a lack of quality sleep, as well as increasing your chances of sleep apnea, or worsening your symptoms if you already have sleep apnea. It's recommended that you avoid drinking any alcohol at least a couple of hours before you intend to go to bed.
Exercise 4 hours before bed
Getting enough exercise each day is important for your overall health and wellbeing, but exercise can also help you sleep. Experts suggest that exercise during the day can help you sleep at night, but if you want to maximize your sleep benefits, you should exercise 4 hours before bed. Studies have shown that exercising during this 4-hour window before bed improves the quality of sleep. Something as easy as a few sets of jumping jacks, lunges, or burpees are great ways to exercise before bed without needed a gym.
Don’t drink too many liquids before bed
This is a simple one. Drinking beverages before bed can wake you up in the middle of the night with frequent bathroom breaks. Avoid consuming a lot of liquids at least an hour before bed so you can stay asleep longer without having to wake up and go to the bathroom.
Take advantage of aromatherapy
The scents of certain essential oils are known to help calm us down, relax, and can encourage restful sleep. Consider using an aromatherapy candle before bed to help calm your nervous system naturally. You can also get aromatherapy pillows that are infused with calming scents like lavender to help you stay asleep all night.
Set your bedroom to the right temperature
A national poll by the Sleep Foundation discovered that having a cool room temperature was rated as one of the most important factors for getting good sleep every night. The best temperature for sleeping is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, or 18.3 degrees celsius. Lowering your thermostat before bed, sleeping on a cooling mattress, or using a cooling pillow are all great ways to help you stay cool to fall asleep fast, and stay asleep throughout the night.
Stay away from blue light
Staying away from blue light before bed, and while you're sleeping, is a great way to improve your sleep. Blue light comes from electronic devices like our phones, computer screens, and TVs.
Experts at Harvard warn us about the negative effects that blue light has on our sleep cycles because it stops the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. They recommend turning off all screens as early as two to three hours before bed.
No napping after 3:00 pm
Although napping can be good for your health, you should avoid taking naps later than 3:00 pm. This helps ensure you'll be tired come bedtime.
Don’t sleep too much
Just like avoiding napping past 3:00 pm, you should also try not to oversleep in the mornings. That means no hitting the snooze button when the alarm goes off. Sleeping late in the mornings can cause you to get too much sleep, which can make it harder for you to fall asleep at night.
Eat the right foods
Eating the right foods before bed can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. On the other hand, eating the wrong foods before bed could keep you up at night. Foods that are high in the sleep hormone melatonin are great for improving your sleep naturally. Foods high in melatonin include fatty fish, eggs, and almonds.
Take a melatonin supplement
Melatonin supplements are safe and natural ways to make sure we're getting enough god this natural sleep hormone. Taking a melatonin supplement is another natural way to get better sleep.
Try chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is known to promote healthy sleep patterns and has similar results in helping people sleep when compared to melatonin supplements. Some tea companies have teas with multiple ingredients to help you sleep that can be so effective they can come with drowsiness warnings.
Meditate before bed
Mediation is famous for being a way to calm the mind and relax the body. A calm mind and relaxed body can mean falling asleep and this is why meditating before bed can help improve your sleep.
Listen to a sleep podcast
Believe it or not, there are lots of podcasts out there dedicated to helping you get a good night’s sleep. With sleep podcasts for everyone, even you like falling asleep to the sound of mundane conversations, there’s a sleep podcast out there that making it easier to catch some Zs. Read our guide on the Best Sleep Podcasts to learn more!
- Keep a nightly bedtime routine
Use some of the other tips for a good night’s sleep together in a bedtime routine. Go to bed at the same time. Turn off those electronics before bed, avoid caffeine or too many beverages, and calm down with something like meditation, a sleep podcast, or chamomile tea.
Even NFL champion quarterback Tom Brady keeps a bedtime routine to stay at the top of his game, and you should too.
- Get a new mattress
This may seem obvious, but the quality of your mattress is going to affect the quality of your sleep. Mattresses do wear out depending on what kind of mattress you have, and a good rule of thumb is to replace your mattress every 8 years or so. If your mattress sags, or isn’t as comfortable as it used to be, get yourself a new mattress to start sleeping better right away.
- White noise machine
There are studies that show white noise can help people fall asleep faster. White noise helps drown other noises that may distract us from sleeping. Using a white noise machine to sleep better can work for some people the same way using a box fan to sleep better works for others.
- Find the right pillow
Having the right pillow is another tip for sleeping better at night. Pillow preferences differ by person, but once you find the right amount of comfort and support it’ll be like resting your head on a cloud in dreamland. Consider getting a new pillow today to sleep better tonight.
- Get a new set of sheets
Being comfortable while we sleep can influence the length and quality of our sleep. No one likes trying to fall asleep on scratchy sheets.
Getting yourself a new set of sheets that’s more comfortable than the ones you have now can set you for sleep success.
- Put up blackout curtains
Controlling your sleep environment can contribute to improving your sleep, and putting up blackout curtains is a great way to block out any unnecessary or unwanted light. Blackout curtains are great for apartments where you have artificial light shining through the window. If you don’t have blackout curtains, you can always use an extra set of dark sheets to reduce light exposure.
- Measure your sleep with a sleep tracker
Take your sleep improvement to the future with a sleep tracker. Sleep trackers work to monitor and record your sleep habits and patterns to give you personalized recommendations for better sleep. There are many sleep apps you can download on your phone, and some even monitor things like your heart rate, movement, and other vitals, giving you the most personalized sleep tips you can get.
- Take a breathe
Breathing exercises are shown to help people fall asleep by calming the central nervous system. This is similar to how meditation helps calm you down and make you feel relaxed.
Doing some short breathing exercises before bed can help get good sleep each night.
- Avoid nicotine
Whether it’s nicotine in cigarettes or nicotine in vape juice, nicotine is a stimulant that experts say will affect your sleep. Consuming nicotine close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep and may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.