Falling asleep may seem like an impossible dream when you’re awake at 3 am., but good sleep is more under your control than you might think. Following healthy sleep habits can make the difference between restlessness and restful slumber, even for those whose sleep is affected by insomnia, jet lag, or shift work.
#1 Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Chemicals that Interfere with Sleep
Caffeinated products decrease a person’s quality of sleep.
As any coffee lover knows, caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake. So avoid caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and some pain relievers) for four to six hours before bedtime. Similarly, smokers should refrain from using tobacco products too close to bedtime.
Although alcohol may help bring on sleep, after a few hours it acts as a stimulant, increasing the number of awakenings and generally decreasing the quality of sleep later in the night.
#2 Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep-Inducing Environment
A quiet, dark, and cool environment can help promote sound slumber. Lower the volume of outside noise with earplugs or a “white noise” appliance. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block light. Keep the temperature comfortably cool—between 60 and 75°F—and the room well ventilated.
It may help to limit your bedroom activities to sleep and sex only. Keeping computers, TVs, and work materials out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.
#3 Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine
Light reading before bed is a good way to prepare for sleep.
Ease the transition from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities an hour or so before bed. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities—doing work, discussing emotional issues. Physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness.
#4 Go to Sleep When You’re Truly Tired
Struggling to fall sleep just leads to frustration. If you’re not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something relaxing, like reading or listening to music until you are tired enough to sleep.
#5 Don’t Be a Night-time Clock-Watcher
Staring at a clock in your bedroom, either when you are trying to fall asleep or when you wake in the middle of the night, can actually increase stress, making it harder to fall asleep. Turn your clock’s face away from you.
And if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep in about 20 minutes, get up and engage in a quiet, restful activity such as reading or listening to music. And keep the lights dim; bright light can stimulate your internal clock. When your eyelids are drooping and you are ready to sleep, return to bed.
#6 Use Light to Your Advantage
Natural light keeps your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle. So let in the light first thing in the morning and get out of the office for a sun break during the day.
#7 Keep Your Internal Clock Set with a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Having a regular sleep schedule helps to ensure better quality and consistent sleep.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover.
#8 Nap Early—Or Not at All
Many people make naps a regular part of their day. However, for those who find falling asleep or staying asleep through the night problematic, afternoon napping may be one of the culprits. This is because late-day naps decrease sleep drive. If you must nap, it’s better to keep it short and before 5 p.m.
#9 Lighten Up on Evening Meals
Eating a pepperoni pizza at 10 p.m. may be a recipe for insomnia. Finish dinner several hours before bedtime and avoid foods that cause indigestion. If you get hungry at night, snack on foods that (in your experience) won’t disturb your sleep.
#10 Balance Fluid Intakes
Drink enough fluid at night to keep from waking up thirsty—but not so much and so close to bedtime that you will be awakened by the need for a trip to the bathroom.
#11 Exercise Early
Exercise helps promote restful sleep if it is done several hours before you go to bed.
Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly—as long as it’s done at the right time. Exercise stimulates the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which helps activate the alerting mechanism in the brain. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed or work out earlier in the day.
#12 TAKE ACTION
Take action today and implement some of these handy hints. Some of these tips will be easier to include in your daily and nightly routine than others. However, if you stick with them, your chances of achieving restful sleep will improve.
Richard Scott combines psychology, NLP and CBT with over 10 years’ professional, full-time experience in traditional and modern hypnosis to deliver the fastest, most successful results.
He specialises in stress and anxiety control, weight management, confidence and self-esteem, and empowering women.
If you need assistance at turning failures into successes, Richard can help you get motivated, get in contact for a free rapid change consultation.