8 Dos and Don’ts to Help You Sleep Better
Do you toss and turn trying to fall asleep every night? How about waking up halfway through the night and struggle to fall back asleep? Another sleepless, tired existence. It’s no way to go through life. You’re always preaching that this is the year that you get better sleep, but something always seems to get in the way. If only there was a how-to guide on how to sleep better you could turn to.
Still, you press on, often trying quick and easy remedies like alcohol or sleeping aids to fix things. The simple fact is this: There is no quick panacea for sleep problems. There are, however, some quick and easy do’s and don’ts that help alleviate some of the problem factors that affect your ability to get quality sleep. We’re here to teach you how to sleep better
DO: Exercise During the Day
Regular exercise improves your health (duh), but maybe you didn’t know that it can improve your quality of sleep. When you exercise regularly, your body releases dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. That means you’ll be able to sleep better and more consistently Exercise can also improve your mood and help fight off depression because of serotonin’s function as a mood regulator. So, improve your mental and physical health, as well as your sleep quality: get out there and get some exercise.
Figure out an exercise you like to do. Some even have secondary benefits for learning how to sleep better. Yoga is a great way to center yourself while also working muscles to relieve anxiety and release tension. If that ain’t right, you can find something that does work, just put yourself out there and rest easy!
DON’T: Have a Nightcap
Alcohol does have a strong somnolent effect on your body, so it is a great sleeping aid, right? Wrong. While you fall asleep fast after drinking alcohol, your body burns through sugar quickly and you soon wake up worse off than before, tossing and turning the rest of the night. Plus, if you imbibe too much, you have to worry about the lingering hangover the next day. Who wants that? It is best just to avoid a nightcap and stick to water or chamomile tea before bed. Those have real benefits, and can help you sleep better without the cost to your body.
DO: Eat Right and Eat Earlier
Here’s advice for how to sleep better that applies to general health too: don’t eat before bed. Eating heavy meals too close to bed can tax your digestive system leading to poor sleep. At the same time, those sugary pre-bedtime treats will also create sleeping issues due to the quick burst of energy and the resulting crash soon thereafter. If you do need a late-night snack, fruit, nuts, or whole grains are the best bet because they aren’t too heavy or full of sugar. On that note, strive to finish dinner at least a two hours before your bedtime so your body has time to digest the food.
DON’T: Sleep-in on Your Days Off
You know there is nothing better than getting extra sleep on the weekends or holidays. This habit, however, seriously throws off your body’s circadian rhythm and makes it hard to keep a better sleep schedule. When your body gets used to the same cycle you eventually are able to fall asleep around the same time every day, waking up without an alarm. By all means, feel free to enjoy a lazy day off now and then, just try to use moderation. Allowing yourself an hour of flexibility on the weekend can make sure that you sleep better during the week AND are able to indulge on days off.
DO: Dim the Lights
Here’ a no-brainer for how to sleep better: keep it dark at night. About 2 or 3 hours before you go to bed, you should try to minimize the amount of light in your house. Your body sets its sleep-wake cycle by the amount of light it perceives. If your body senses too much light, it will adjust your circadian rhythm accordingly. Lower light levels send an unconscious signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.
DON’T: Screen-Time in Bed
As mentioned above, too much light keeps you awake. Guess what emits a ton of blue light? Your phone, computer, and tablets. Holding a phone or tablet close to your face before bedtime will flood your body with blue light, gearing it up for a new day. Avoid screen-time use in bed as much as possible. Read a book, listen to some music, or try a podcast. You’ll definitely notice the difference, falling asleep faster, without your body having to battle with itself.
DO: Make Your Room as Comfortable as Possible
This isn’t rocket science. There is nothing worse than an uncomfortable sleep. You toss and turn all night and wake up sore the next day. In order to have better sleep, you need to have a comfortable sleeping environment. This doesn’t just mean new things, it means creating a space that’s better for rest. Your bedroom should be cool and dark. Your bedclothes should be clean, soft, and breathable. YFinally, your bed should be comfortable and supportive, leaning more towards the firm side. Making your space inviting is a huge checklist for how to sleep better — and one that we often overlook.
DON’T: Sleep with Noise
The smallest noise can affect the quality of your sleep. Even when you are in the deepest sleep stage, your brain still registers and processes sound. Noise also affects the body’s ability to shift from light sleep to deep sleep. So, despite your ability to “sleep through it all,” you are probably still getting restless sleep if your sleep environment is too noisy. If you live in an area where you cannot control outside noise, consider using a fan or white noise machine to shut out the unwanted racket.
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