Tips for Better Sleep
It can be difficult to get a great night's sleep, between life stressors, poor habits, rampant technology, and the wrong sleep environment. Here are some ideas to help you achieve better quality sleep:
Proper environment - So what do I mean by this? First and foremost, are you sleeping on the right mattress and pillow for you? We are all different, and our bodies have different needs in terms of support, temperature regulation, and general comfort. So make sure you are using what is best for you. Try different mattresses and pillows, making sure you feel great when using them. You spend a lot of time in bed, so this is the biggest key to a good rest. Secondly, also make sure you are using sheets, pillowcases, and blankets that are comfortable to you. Experiment with different types until you find the best option for your body. In addition, the room temperature is important. Numerous studies have shown that the best temperature for quality sleep is between 64 and 69 degrees. We are all different, so you may be outside of this range. However, try a temp in that range for a few nights and see if you notice a difference.
Technology issues - This involves preparing the bedroom environment by getting rid of the devices that can delay the onset or interrupt your sleep. The bedroom is not meant for watching tv, so don't do it. Also, eliminate any devices that could wake you up, either a phone ringing, a computer making noises, or any other items that can cause distractions. Light can trick our brains into thinking we should be awake, so turn off devices and any other light sources, and consider black-out drapes to help when the sun comes up in the morning.
Life stress - There are so many things that bombard us in our daily lives, and these things can make sleep a difficult commodity to come by. Learn to make your bedroom a safe haven from these stressors. Start with a nightly wind-down routine - finish up any daily tasks at least an hour before you want to go to sleep, thus allowing time for your brain to stop thinking about them. Then focus on getting ready for bed - brushing teeth, washing face, etc. Finally, spend a little time doing something relaxing, like meditation, reading, or listening to mellow music. Also, resist the urge to work from your bed. Again, the bedroom is for sleeping (and for sex), so teach your brain this by avoiding other activities not related to those 2 things!
Habits - We can improve the quality of our sleep by also improving our evening and nighttime habits. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as both can interfere with our sleep. My recommendation is to stop caffeine intake around 3pm, as it can linger in your system for hours and thus cause issues with getting to sleep. And alcohol simply interrupts our normal sleep patterns, so avoid it whenever you can. Getting exercise is important as well, as we sleep better when we are more active. Go for an evening walk, as this gets you moving and has also been shown to diminish mental and physical stress. For some, a warm shower or bath can be relaxing and helps our bodies cool down even more as we get ready for bed. This is best done about 3 hours prior to sleep. Setting a routine is important, as I mentioned above, A good habit is to try for consistency, going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time every morning. This lets your brain and body know when to sleep, and can elicit stable melatonin levels and a consistent circadian rhythm. If you find that you can't sleep, don't just lie in bed awake with your brain churning away. Instead, get up and go do something else. Read a book, listen to music, meditate, whatever takes your mind off of the worries. Then when you are sleepy again, return to your bedroom and go back to sleep.
I hope these tips are helpful. I also have more tailored approaches for people who suffer from insomnia, with specific ideas that might work for one person but not another. Sleep issues could also be secondary to hormonal imbalances, so checking hormone levels can be beneficial. There are also foods, herbal supplements, and nutraceuticals that might be useful for some people.