One of the main steps you can take toward better health is through better sleep. Your body needs the rest that sleep provides to restore energy, fight illness and maintain alertness.
But one of the most difficult habits to break is a poor sleep pattern. For many people, the only restful sleep they experience is induced by a drug or supplements. There are things, however, you can do to improve your sleep.
Convert your bedroom into a sleeping sanctuary
Great sleep requires a great environment, made for comfort and relaxation. It’s important to make your surroundings as peaceful and serene as possible to achieve the best quality of sleep.
It starts with a comfortable bed. A high quality mattress can contribute significantly to your quality of sleeping. Spoil yourself with luxury sheets and blankets, or silk pajamas.
Establishing the right temperature in your room also helps promote good sleep. Make it cold enough to snuggle under a heavy comforter or warm enough to sleep above the sheets. Establish the setting that works best for you.
Make sure your bedroom is limited to just sleep. Don’t turn it into a family room or office. You should associate your bedroom with serene relaxation and an intimate place for you and your partner. Take out the television if you find yourself watching too many shows in bed.
Create a sleep schedule
Your body runs like clockwork and does its best performance on a schedule. Sleep is part of that daily routine that must come under a fixed schedule.
Create a set wake-up time each day to teach your body the sleep schedule that you need. If you wake up each day at different times, your body doesn’t establish a pattern that is easy to follow.
Your daily schedule should include a block of time dedicated to the proper number of sleep hours. Once you have that time and a daily wake-up time, count backwards to establish your bedtime.
Limit the number and length of naps you take during the day. If your nap is too long or too late, it will affect your sleeping schedule. Aim for a 20-minute nap early in the afternoon if you need one.
Change Daytime Habits to Improve Sleep
Great sleep doesn’t just happen at bedtime. It is also the result of good habits when you are awake.
For example, enjoy the natural sunshine that your body needs during the day. Make it a point to spend some time outdoors exercising, reading, working or meditating.
This can help establish a healthy circadian rhythm, along with limiting the amount of light allowed in your bedroom. The darkness adds to the peacefulness of your bedroom as a sleeping sanctuary. It also helps establish a distinction between the more active times of the day in the sunlight.
Daily exercise also serves as a good habit to promote better sleep. Schedule your exercise earlier in the day to allow your body time to rest after exertion and before sleep.
A good diet is another contributor to better sleep. Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption, and eliminate late night snacks. Caffeine and alcohol can both affect sleep if too much is consumed.
Alcohol might make you drowsy at times, but it disrupts your body’s natural sleep patterns. Don’t eat late in the evening. That can make it harder for your body to switch into a restful state while also digesting food.
Develop a Routine Before Sleep
Great sleep starts before you shut your eyes in bed. That’s why you need a solid routine before bedtime to help improve your quality of sleep.
Just as you must follow a good schedule during the day, you must also for your pre-bedtime. With your bedtime tied to a sleep schedule, make the 30-minutes prior a wind down period.
This is when you need to start relaxing with quiet reading, gentle stretching exercises, soothing music and a calm household. If you have children at home, make sure they know this is the time for stillness and calm.
Change your surroundings at this time by dimming the lights and disconnecting from devices. Begin preparing your sleeping sanctuary for the darkness you need. These steps will help encourage your body’s natural production of melatonin.
Have a Plan if You Are Still Awake
Even with the best daily habits and surroundings, you can still struggle at times with sleep. You need a plan for when this happens.
Develop relaxation techniques that will help you relax and fall asleep. This isn’t about making yourself fall asleep. It’s about relaxation. Focus on your breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or meditation. These are all examples of relaxation techniques you can use if you have difficulty falling asleep or wake up in the middle of the night.
If you are struggling to fall asleep, don’t lie irritated or frustrated in bed. Get out of bed and head for the couch. This helps remove any association you may make with your frustration and your bed. Don’t hop out of bed and start scrolling through messages on your smartphone. That can make it harder to fall back to sleep.
Instead, practice your relaxation techniques. If you haven’t fallen asleep within 20 minutes, move to another room or place. Keep the lights low so you don’t further disrupt your sleep setting.
If your sleep pattern falls into a patch of sleeplessness, try different things to reset your schedule. Extend your pre-sleep ritual to allow for more relaxation time.
Monitor your diet to ensure you aren’t overdoing it before bed. Learn a new relaxation technique that may help you improve your sleep. It’s important to make the effort to train your body and mind for better sleep. Your health depends on it.