Medically Reviewed by Dr. Bryan Seigel D.C., P.L.C.
If there’s one thing that you want to do to maximize your health, getting a good night’s sleep is it. Good sleep is critical to your well-being. It can impact your hormone balance, body weight, your sexual function, your focus, and concentration, as well as your risk factor for disease.
Not to mention, as we’ve all experienced, on those nights you don’t get enough sleep, you’re left feeling far less than optimal.
So what can you do to ensure that you get a good night’s rest? Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take. If you’re currently tossing and turning trying to get to bed, these tips should help.
Check Your Room Temperature
There’s nothing worse than trying to fall asleep in a hot room. This will make you toss and turn for hours – or longer – if you aren’t careful. Take steps a few hours prior to going to bed. Open a window, adjust your thermostat, or turn on that portable A/C if you have one (and if you don’t, consider it!).
These can make a big difference in the quality of sleep you get. Even if you are able to fall asleep in a hot room, you may not sleep as deeply as you would if it was cooler and as such, wake up not feeling as refreshed.
Use A Hot Bath
Another technique you can use that will build upon the last is actually taking a hot bath about an hour before bed. This may seem counterintuitive – why take a hot bath when you want to be cool. But, keep in mind that this can help to lull you to sleep.
When you raise your body temperature by going in that hot bath and then afterward transition to your cold room, this will help to make you feel extra drowsy, making it easier to fall asleep.
Plus, there’s nothing like a hot bath to ease muscular stress and tension, getting the body ready to fall asleep.
Power Off Those Electronics
One thing that you must do if you want to fall asleep faster is to turn off those electronics a few hours before going to bed. Whether it’s your cell phone, your computer, your tablet, or something else that you like to use before bed, try and stay away at least one hour before you plan to go to sleep.
These devices emit blue light that stimulates the brain and can suppress natural melatonin release. As melatonin is the hormone that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle and helps you become drowsy in the evening, if it’s not being released, chances are, you aren’t going to be feeling very tired.
If you absolutely must have them on, at the very least download one of the many apps available that help to change the color of light being emitted by your screen to one that is more conducive to evening light. This simple change alone can help, but powering them off 30 minutes before bedtime is the best bet. And whatever you do, never watch TV in bed.
Have you ever considered meditating before bed? If not, you may want to. Many people have this notion that meditation is only for those who are living in solitude and want to sit and ‘Omm’ for multiple hours per day, but that just isn’t the case.
The everyday individual can greatly benefit from even a few minutes of meditation multiple days per week. You don’t have to do it long to reap great benefits. Try and work your way up to doing 10 minutes straight and then go from there.
Those who meditate prior to bed tend to sleep deeper and fall asleep faster, thus getting far more rest.
Know Your Pre-Bed Snack
What you eat before bed also matters in terms of how easily you can fall asleep. As long as you work a healthy snack into your target daily calorie count, there’s no reason to avoid eating completely before you turn in for the night. That said, you do need to plan your snack wisely.
Try eating something that’s rich in protein with a few grams of dietary fat as well. Avoid too many carbohydrates however as they can lead to a blood sugar high and then a crash later on, which would wake you up in the middle of the night.
Good choices include a can of tuna with some avocado, a glass of milk with a handful of almonds, or some chicken breast with salad greens and olive oil based dressing.
Another great way to encourage a good sleep is to supplement wisely. Now, I’m not talking about strong over the counter drugs. Rather, you want to find a supplement that is made from natural ingredients that will work with your body to lull it to sleep.
A product such as Lights Out, for instance, contains natural herbs and vitamins including Valerian Extract, Chamomile Extract, GABA, Tryptophan, Passion Flower Extract, Hops Extract, Lemon Balm, and Melatonin all of which will naturally help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Taking this prior to bed can help ease your mind of worries while relaxing your body. For someone who is really struggling, it’s a must-have for good sleep.
Dim Those Lights
Finally, a few hours before bed, focus on dimming your lights. This again works in conjunction with melatonin. When you are in bright light, melatonin is suppressed and you don’t become sleepy.
When in dim light, however, this hormone can thrive, having the natural effect it’s supposed to – making you sleepy. Consider turning off those lights and lighting a candle. It’ll set the mood for good sleep.
Avoid The ‘Sleepless 3′ Before Bed
In addition to avoiding a high dose of carbs, there are three other things you’ll want to steer clear of in the evening hours. These include alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals.
You might think that a glass of wine will settle you down after a busy day but alcohol, while relaxing initially, can actually cause you to struggle to fall asleep. Additionally, cigarettes can stimulate the brain, having a similar effect.
Finally, that heavy meal you eat may make you want to pass out on the sofa after you consume it but it’s also going to mean blood is rushing to the digestive system and your body is hard at work with that process for the hours to come. This is not conducive to good sleep. Avoid eating a big meal for two to three hours prior to going to bed.
Get Your Body Regular
One of the best things that you can do to help yourself sleep more soundly is stick to a regular sleep schedule. Yes, even on weekends. Do your best to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning. Once your body learns this rhythm, you’ll find you feel far more energized on a day to day basis.
As much as you may enjoy sleeping in until noon on the weekend, you can’t make up for lost sleep during the week like this, so it’s not an effective strategy to leave you feeling your best.
Exercise Every Day
While you don’t want to do an intense exercise and then go to bed immediately after (as you’ll never get good sleep in those circumstances!), it is important to get regular physical exercise in each and every day. Even light exercise is better than no exercise, so head out for that walk around the block if nothing else.
Ideally, you should be exercising no closer than 3 hours prior to bedtime.
So there you have ten great tips on how you can get a better night’s sleep. Try one or two (or more!) of these tonight and see if you don’t wake up feeling more rested tomorrow.