12 Tips for Better Sleep

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With many people leading busy lives, getting enough and good quality sleep is almost unimaginable. One of the reasons is because you have to juggle between many things during the daytime, or even have to deal with a noisy neighbour/neighbourhood. Just because you have a busy lifestyle doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the much-needed rest in the form of good quality sleep. Here are a few tips how.

What's Inside?

Create the Perfect Sleep Environment

The bedroom should provide just the perfect environment to promote sleep. For this reason, you need to ensure it is dark, quiet, cool enough to promote sleep and that your mattress is comfortable, take a look at mattress reviews to find your ideal mattress.

There are several ways to achieve this. First, the room needs to be dark enough. Invest in blackout shades, heavy curtains, or even an eye mask to block the light.  To create a sense of calmness and quiet, you can either invest in a ‘white noise’ machine or some earplugs. Proper ventilation is also required in the bedroom. Set the temperatures here a degree lower than the normal room temperature. This allows the body to drift into sleep-mode much easier.  You also need to invest in good quality and comfortable mattress, mattress topper, and a pillow.

If pets disturb you during sleep, you might then want to consider kicking them out of your bedroom. Electronics shouldn’t be allowed in the bedroom either. Only reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex. TVs, computers, video games, and other electrical equipment should be kept outside the bedroom.

Avoid Substances That Interfere with Sleep (Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine, Etc.)

We all love our cup of coffee.  While coffee may come in handy in stimulating your brain thus improving alertness, it also decreases your ability to fall asleep. Some of the products that contain caffeine as a key ingredient include cola, chocolate, tea, coffee, and several pain relievers. That said, you need to avoid taking anything with caffeine 4-6 hours before your bedtime. This applies to tobacco-related products as well.

Many people believe that alcohol will help them fall asleep. While it might help to some extent, alcohol contains stimulants that could prevent good quality sleep. In addition to this, taking alcohol a few hours to bedtime means you will have to wake up several times during the night to go for short calls. That said, you need to avoid taking alcohol several hours (3 -hours) to bedtime.

Have A Pre-Sleep (Soothing) Routine

Make it a habit of taking on light, yet soothing, activities just before going to bed – reading something would be a good start.  This helps to ease the transition from the tiring daytime activities to a relaxing mood. Practice relaxation exercises, watch the TV, read a book, or take a shower just before jumping on your bed.

If possible, avoid discussing stressful and emotional issues or doing any work several hours to your bedtime. Most of these activities will only cause an increase in cortisol levels, hence limiting your ability to drift to sleep easily.  If you have a habit of taking your troubles to bed, take a pen and paper, then write them down.

Only Go to Bed When Truly Tired

Should you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, get out of bed, then look for something relaxing to do. You can listen to soft relaxing music, read an exciting book, or go to another room. Only jump back to bed when you start feeling sleepy.

Don’t Be A Clock-Watcher

As mentioned before, avoid going to bed if not sleepy at all. Doing so will only turn you into a clock-watcher, whereby you’ll start counting minutes and seconds in desperation. Staring at the clock will only increase your stress levels thus making it harder to drift to sleep. If the clock has to be in the bedroom, you should then have it face away from your direct view from the bed.

There are times when you have to wake up for a short call or other disruptions. If this happens and you are unable to fall back asleep, engage in a restful exercise to stimulate sleep. Ensure the lights are dim enough and the bedroom quiet.

Take Advantage of Natural Light

Use natural light to reset your circadian rhythm and internal clock. Letting the sunlight in, in the morning, or even better, getting out of the house does help trigger wakefulness in the morning. This makes it easier for you to drift to sleep in the evening too.

Have a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Make it a habit of going to bed, and getting out of the same, at set times. This creates a consistent sleep schedule enabling the body to set its internal clock to the same.  If you prefer going to bed at 10 pm. And wake up at 7.am, stick to those times, or close to that throughout the week. This includes weekends and holidays. Do not give in to the temptation to grab more sleep just because it is a weekend. Get out of bed and engage in an inspiring/positive activity to overcome the temptation. It will only be a matter of time before your body adapts to the schedules.

Nap Early or Avoid It Altogether

Most people take power naps just after their lunch-break to help rejuvenate. While this might be a good idea, it might affect your ability to fall asleep when you need it. That said, it’s advisable to avoid napping if you struggle to fall or stay asleep.  If you have to nap, then make it not later than 5 pm. Experts recommend short naps for they won’t have a significant impact on your sleep cycle.

Take Lighter Meals in The Evening

This is particularly important for those that struggle with insomnia. Having a heavy meal a few hours or minutes to bedtime is a recipe for disaster. Some of these foods may cause indigestion, or force you to wake up severally at night for both short and long calls.  Consider snacking if feeling hungry. Simple snacks should help take you through the night comfortably. Consider foods that don’t trigger alertness such as carbs and dairy foods.

Balance your Fluid Intake

Fluids, and especially water, are needed to help keep body processes on check. Too much of these will, however, force you into making numerous trips to the bathroom. That said, try to balance your fluid intake at night to avoid feeling thirsty and having to wake up for short calls.

Choose the Best Times to Exercise

If done early, exercise can help improve how fast you fall asleep, and quality of sleep. It is through the exercise that the body is capable of regulating hormones that promote alertness and sleep. When you exercise, the body produced cortisol in higher amounts – making you remain alert for several hours. For this reason, experts recommend exercising in the early hours of the day, and not later than 5 in the evening. This way, the cortisol levels will have worn out by the time you need to go to bed.

Follow Through

While not every tip outlined here will work for everyone, you are better off sticking to those that do help. Follow tips that help you achieve restful sleep, and follow through to establish a habit. If you, however, cannot find sleep or stay asleep despite trying all the tips outlined above, you should then consider seeking professional help. Some of these issues could be symptoms of restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and other clinical conditions. Consulting a sleep specialist, physician or doctor should help identify the underlying problem, and have it treated on time.