Getting less than 8 hours of shut-eye each night can have devastating effects on your health and can result in difficulty focusing, reduced immunity, moodiness and even weight gain. If you’re suffering from insomnia, no need to worry – we’ve got top tips for getting your Zzzz’s on.
Create a Sleep Schedule
If you’re like most people, chances are you turn in earlier during the week, while weekends mean later nights and sleeping in. While the weekend may sound like the perfect opportunity to catch up on your sleep, it turns out that this can do more harm than good. Having a consistent sleep schedule is the best way to help yourself fall asleep.
Sleep Schedule Checklist
- Begin winding down and doing a relaxing activity like reading or coloring an hour before you plan to hit the hay.
- Go to bed and set your alarm for the same time everyday to set your internal clock.
- If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of heading to bed, get up and do a relaxing activity. Tossing and turning can lead to frustration, which makes it even more difficult to fall asleep.
- Use natural light to help set your body’s clock by exposing yourself to light during the morning and throughout the day, and turning down artificial lights (especially blue light from tech devices) prior to bed.
- Avoid daytime naps if you are having trouble falling asleep at night.
- If you have jet lag or are having trouble with your sleep-wake cycle, consider using a natural melatonin supplement to reset your internal clock.
Have a Comfortable Environment
It turns out that where you lay your head matters. You’ll get the best sleep in a cool, dark, and quiet environment so be sure to ditch the light of your cell phone and turn down the heat before you climb into bed. If outside noises disturb you, a white noise machine can be used to help drown them out.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom between 60 and 75°F, the perfect temperature for sleep.
- Use a white noise machine or earplugs to drown out background noise.
- Use an eye mask or blackout curtains to ensure your room is dark. If you have a digital clock, turn it away from you so you aren’t kept awake by the light.
- Ensure your mattress and pillows are comfortable, and allergen-free if you suffer from allergy. Remember that mattresses should be replaced every 10 years, and pillows every 2 years.
Watch What You Eat
Consuming stimulating ingredients like caffeine too close to bedtime can make it more difficult to stay asleep. You’ll also want to avoid eating too big a meal right before lying down as this can lead to indigestion. However, a light snack made with carbs can help you relax and fall asleep.
Sleep Nutrition Checklist:
- Avoid caffeine including coffee, chocolate and caffeinated tea at least four hours before bed.
- Avoid drinking too much before bed to prevent frequent bathroom trips.
- Limit alcohol in the evenings, as it can make your sleep less restful.
- If you’re hungry, opt for a light snack contain carbs like whole grain cereal or a piece of toast.
- Tart cherries, walnuts, almonds, Greek yogurt and bananas can be helpful in promoting sleep.
- If you need help winding down, caffeine-free herbal tea like chamomile can be soothing.
Having a number of thoughts and worries running through your head is not going to help lull you to sleep. Luckily, there are a number of strategies that can be used to help manage stress so you can get some rest.
Stress Management Checklist:
- Exercise early in the day to help banish stress – just don’t exercise right before bed as it can wake you up.
- Take a warm bath before bed to help yourself relax.
- Use aromatherapy like lavender oil to help manage stress and promote sleep.
- Meditate or practice restorative yoga before bed.
- Write down any thoughts you have running through your head, such as what you have to do tomorrow, so you can clear your mind before you fall asleep.
MORE ON MANAGING STRESS:
- Beating the Freshman 15: Managing Stress
- How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Fitness Practice
- Not a Hippie? Why You Should Still Meditate
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