Good sleep is absolutely essential for your health, happiness, and productivity. But what could you be doing to increase the quality of the time you spend in bed?
Stick to a rhythm
You’ll want to budget 8 hours in bed each day. If you can’t sleep for a full 8 hours or are having trouble getting back to sleep, don’t lay in bed and wait for sleep to come. Spending too much time laying down isn’t good for your body. Try to avoid naps, or staying up too late on the weekends. If you aren’t able to sleep enough during the eight hours a day that you’ve set aside for sleeping after a couple of weeks, then you might want to try adjusting your sleep time incrementally until you’ve found something that works for your activity needs and your natural sleep patterns. If you’re someone who often stays up past your bedtime, then you might consider setting an alarm or timer to remind you when it’s time to hit the hay.
Watch what you eat
Laying down to bed with too much in your stomach can disrupt sleep by causing discomfort, pain or indigestion. You’ll also want to be mindful of when you’re consuming caffeine or alcohol. The effects of caffeine and its ability affect sleep can last for several hours after consumption, and while alcohol might make you feel drowsy when falling asleep it can disrupt sleep later in the night. There are a some food and drink that can be helpful for sleep, such as herbal teas with chamomile or lavender which can help you to relax and fall asleep easier. Don’t drink too much of these, or anything else before bed though, as you could find yourself getting up multiple times to use the restroom.
Try keeping your bedroom a little cooler than the rest of your house or turn the thermostat down before climbing into bed. It’s all down to preference, but keeping the space between 60 and 67 degrees fahrenheit can be very beneficial for promoting restful sleep. You don’t want to overdo it though, as a room that's too cold can keep you awake and uncomfortable if your struggling to stay warm. If your partner prefers the room a little colder than you do then you might try using seperate sheets, or getting a heavy blanket just for your side of the bed.
Create a relaxing space
Try to make sure that you’re going to bed is in a room that isn’t full of screens or too much noise. Some people find a fan or something similar on to create a small amount of ambient noise in the room can be helpful. It’s also important to have a comfortable mattress with plenty of pillows. Older mattresses and pillows can create factors that contribute to sleeplessness and interfere with your ability to get good rest from the time that you spend in bed. You’ll always want to replace your mattress every ten years, and your pillows shouldn’t be more than two years old. You might also consider investing in heavy blinds or blackout curtains that will block out incoming light.
Get some sun
Exposure to various amounts of sunlight affects how and when the body produces melatonin, a hormone that is responsible for regulating sleep. Getting a little more sun in the daytime will help promote increased melatonin levels when the sun goes down. If you’re having trouble getting up early then you might want to reposition your mattress in your bedroom so that you get some sunlight earlier in the day to help wake you. Some people who work rotating or late shifts, or those that need to keep night hours find that melatonin supplements can be helpful for establishing a healthy sleep pattern. It’s even more important for people who are up late to make sure they are getting enough sunlight, as a chronic lack of natural melatonin and vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, can affect long term health.
Take a few minutes
Any type of stimulating activity before bedtime can interfere with your sleep. Bright screens late at night can interfere with melatonin release, so try to stay away from video games, movies, tv, or using your phone for at-least an hour before bed. Other things like work, stress, and family life can keep you awake. If you’re having trouble with this, try spending a few minutes before bed doing something relaxing to occupy your mind. While this might not eliminate your worries, it can help you to put them out of your mind while your falling asleep. There is some evidence that calming techniques, such as breathing exercises, meditation, or other similar types of activities performed before bed can help getting to sleep.