It is one thing to know that you’re supposed to get enough sleep and another to know how to sleep better.
The latter – often easier said than done – can impact most aspects of your life for the better. It can make you more productive at work and help you achieve a healthier skin, just to start with. But, how often do you get enough sleep? Is it possible to always have enough sleep?
In the spirit of helping you learn how to sleep better, here are a handful of tips for better sleep.
#1. Make your bedroom dark and keep it that way through the night
Our bodies are hardwired to sleep better when it’s dark. Light inhibits the production of the special chemical substance responsible for naturally inducing sleep – melatonin hormone – as indicated in a 2010 survey of 116 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 30 years old (1).
You could fall asleep with lights on, but even then, your senses will still be able to detect the light through your shut eyelids and the brain won’t be able to produce the needed melatonin to keep you asleep. So, be sure dim the lights when getting ready for bed, by turning off the bright overhead lamps and switching to a soft, bedside lamp if you must keep some light on.
#2. Keep your room quiet
Whether you’re sensitive or not, sound has the potential to disturb your sleep rhythm. Normally, your body transitions through different stages of sleep, and any unexpected noise in the night may drive you awake during the shallower cycles (2).
Experts therefore recommend keeping any source of noise out of your bedroom at night including electronic gadgets and pets.
#3. Avoid taking caffeine about 6 hours before bedtime
Caffeine is a known stimulant that can stay in your system for longer than you might know. According to a small study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, taking coffee even early in the afternoon can keep you up in bed later at night (3). It is therefore recommended that you cut your afternoon-to-evening coffee intake in order to sleep better.
#4. Exercise regularly
Most sleep advocates recommend physical exercises as a major tip on how to sleep better. Working out doesn’t just make you worn out and sleepy, it actually has the potential to make you sleep better (4).
In a 2010 study, adults with chronic insomnia reported significant improvements in sleep quality, mood and the overall quality of life after participating in aerobic exercises. It is therefore important that you make regular, vigorous exercisers part of your daily routine.
#5. Have a comfortable mattress (and beddings)
This is a no brainer – uncomfortable bed can make you toss and turn in bed all night. Your mattress and/or beddings hugely determine the thermal conditions of your sleep environment and can make or break your sleep (5). Whether this has to do with the cushioning or size, be sure to get your physician’s recommendation on how to sleep better by choosing the right mattress.
#6. Observe a consistent sleep/wake routine
Key among the tricks on how to get better sleep is to condition your body to a regular routine. Get into the habit of going to bed at a specific time and waking up at approximately the same time every day, including weekends.
To determine the effects of sleep schedules, a group of 61 undergraduates were examined for 30 days using sleep diaries and their sleep regularity quantified using the sleep regularity index metric.
The results indicated that sticking to sleeping and waking up at around the same time every day is just as important as the number of hours you sleep (6). The routine helps stabilize your circadian rhythm, making you healthier and more productive in different areas of your life including work and school.
#7. Use an acupressure mat
Spending some time lying on an acupressure mat stimulates acupressure points on your back, easing your body into a deep relaxation response (7). An acupressure mat is a large foam mat with numerous sharp, short plastic needles on its surface. These unique needles target specific pressure points along meridians (energy channels) in the neck and back thereby alleviating pain and improving circulation throughout the body.
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The deep sense of relaxation you achieve from the restored circulation helps to slow the activity of your brain wave, wheedling you toward sleep (8).
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Sleep is essential to a healthy body and lifestyle. If you keep tossing and turning in bed at night trying to get some sleep then perhaps you should try out these tips on how to sleep better.