Almost every day, we hear more research confirming the importance of a good night’s sleep. Aside from the intuitive benefits of sleeping well — more energy and increased
alertness during the day — we are learning that individuals who get a better night’s sleep live longer, are less susceptible to disease and depression, and look and feel younger at any age.
There’s clear value to making sleep a priority. Here are some tips for better sleep that have you out like a light in no time.
- Establish a routine: Your body will sleep better if it is used to going to bed and getting up at the same time. Erratic, unpredictable bedtime schedules — and trying to make up for late nights by staying in bed longer — all have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep.
- Make your bedroom a haven: Your bed should be a place you sleep in and nothing more. Watching TV in bed or spending hours on your laptop make it very difficult for your body to transition into sleep. These activities stimulate the mind and inhibit production of melatonin, an important sleep-inducing chemical.
- Get lots of sunlight during the day: Exposure to sunlight is another way the body regulates your sleep cycle through the production of melatonin. Spending all day in a dark room makes it harder to get to sleep at night. If your home or office doesn’t get enough sun during the day, consider investing in a light therapy lamp for combatting seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
- Get comfortable: Set up your bedroom in the quietest, darkest part of the home. Investing in blackout curtains, noise-cancelling headphones and — of course — a good mattress and pillow will all contribute to the quality of your sleep.
- Cut back on alcohol: It may seem counter-intuitive, but the sleep you’re getting after a few drinks is less restful than it would be if you were completely sober. Cutting out booze, especially right before bed, can help you sleep better.
- Regulate your diet: Likewise, avoid caffeine and stay away from big meals at night. If you’re hungry for a midnight snack, avoid fatty meals that can cause indigestion. Instead, try a bowl of yogurt, a turkey sandwich or a piece of fruit.
- Exercise regularly: A healthy body is more receptive to sleep. Making time for even a small amount of daily exercise will leave you more rested when you wake up in the morning. As an added bonus, exercise can help you lose weight, which in turn may be useful in combatting indigestion, sleep apnea and other issues keeping you up at night.
Taking steps to increase both the amount and quality of your sleep is worth it. If you’ve tried the above tips for better sleep but are still struggling, talk to your doctor about your options.