Nothing is worse when you go through a string of nights with low sleep quality. Your days drag on, you can’t focus, or you may exhibit signs of irritability. More importantly, a lack of quality sleep could lead to weight gain or other more serious health problems.1
On the other hand, better sleep may improve many aspects of your health, including mental health, normal hormone release, and overall physical health. We’re here to offer some strategies that could help you fall asleep faster or achieve better sleep.
10 Tips to Fall and Stay Asleep
Take a Relaxing Bath or Shower
Sometimes, that feeling of climbing into the sheets after a hot bath or shower just can’t be topped. There’s scientific evidence to support routine hot baths or showers before bed, too. Studies show that people who took hot baths, showers, or foot baths before bed raised their core body temperature by a couple of degrees. In doing so, they fell asleep faster and had more uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night.2
Bedtime and sleepytime teas are caffeine-free, herbal teas that include ingredients that are common in sleep supplements. Ingredients such as chamomile, valerian, lemon balm, lavender, and spearmint cause natural sedating effects on the body. Plus, how you ingest these ingredients is more preferable to swallowing a pill — sipping a cup of tea is much more relaxing and meditative.
Not only is exercise good for your overall health, but it works wonders to help improve your sleep habits. Research suggests that moderately intense exercise among adults cuts the time it takes to fall asleep in half, which could afford you more time in crucial sleep cycles. Even for those with insomnia, exercise reduced the amount of time to fall asleep by 55% and wakefulness by 30% while increasing total sleep time by 18%.
However, it’s not advised to exercise too late in the evening. Adrenaline and epinephrine, hormonal by-products of exercise, cause alertness, which doesn’t help when you’re trying to wind down for the night.
Increase Exposure to Sunshine
Your circadian rhythm, the internal process that regulates your sleep-wake cycle, may be affected by how much sunlight you’re exposed to during the day. Sunlight during the day has been found to increase the duration of sleep as well as improve the quality of sleep.3
Now you have more of a reason to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Walking, outdoor sports, reading outside — all are wonderful methods to increase your exposure to natural light. If this isn’t a practical solution, there are natural, bright light bulbs available.
Reduce Blue Light Exposure
Despite the benefits of being exposed to light during the day, it’s a different story when you’re subjected to light during the night. Blue light exposure at night has similar effects that light does during the day — the light affects your circadian rhythm. However, in this instance, the light is tricking your circadian rhythm into thinking that it’s still daytime.
Blue light can be emitted from several devices that you might use as you wind down for the day. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs all cast blue light as they’re being used. A disruption in your circadian rhythm can reduce the production of hormones like melatonin, which helps with relaxation and deep sleep.
Several options may reduce your exposure to blue light:
- Download apps or programs that block blue light on your devices
- Turn off devices and bright lights at least two hours before bed
- Wear glasses that block blue light
Don’t Consume Food or Beverages Before Bed
Eating large meals and consuming beverages with alcohol or caffeine before falling asleep may negatively impact your sleep rhythms. Food that you eat before bed may energize and keep you awake, and trying to digest certain foods during sleep may cause indigestion or heartburn.
Consumption of many alcoholic beverages may hinder your production of melatonin, which impacts your circadian rhythm of sleep and wakefulness. Additionally, some research suggests that alcohol may prevent human growth hormone levels from rising during sleep. HGH functions as a repair or restoration mechanism as you sleep.
A hot cup of coffee can work wonders in the morning when you need something to get you going. However, a beverage with caffeine consumed later in the evening could hinder your sleep rhythms. Caffeine may stay in your bloodstream longer than you think — upwards of 6 hours — and stimulate your nervous system, not allowing your body to relax.
Establish Sleep and Wake Routines
Routines may be powerful when it comes to training your body to achieve better sleep. Taking certain steps to prepare yourself for sleep may help your body settle down and naturally go through its circadian rhythms.4 There are several things you can do to set a bedtime routine:
- Meditate or do light yoga in the hours leading up to bedtime
- Read a book before bed
- Perform a grooming routine (brushing your teeth, cleansing your face, etc.)
- Tidy up your bedroom to ensure a clean, decluttered space.
Keep Consistent Bedtime Routines
Your circadian rhythm works to keep your sleep-wakefulness cycle in check, especially in line with the sunrise and sunset. Additionally, consistent sleep and wake times may help your duration and quality of sleep, long-term.5
Studies have suggested that those who have irregular bedtimes or those who stay up much later on the weekends may report poorer sleep. Furthermore, irregular sleep times may affect the production of melatonin, which is integral to your circadian rhythm.
Improve Your Sleep Environment
The state of your bedroom may affect the quality of your sleep, as well. Plenty of research has found that excess noise or light can negatively impact your sleep.6 Make sure that your sleep isn’t impeded by excess outside or inside noise, light, or distractions. A clean, organized room that is designed for relaxation and sleep may increase sleep duration and quality.
Additionally, set your bedroom temperature to your ideal temperature. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between temperature and quality of sleep and if a bedroom is too warm it might disrupt one’s sleep.7 Room temperature is entirely preferential, so experiment with your bedroom temperature to find what works with you.
Ensure You Have the Right Bedding
A quality mattress, studies have found, may reduce back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 60%, and stiffness by 59%. Additionally, a pillow that is created with natural ingredients and meticulous processes may enhance your sleep. By choosing the right pillow, your neck, shoulders, and spine may align better, ensuring a better night’s sleep without needing to readjust or re-fluff your pillow.
Make Better Sleep a Priority
Healthy, rejuvenating sleep could be integral to your overall health, affecting your hormones, energy levels, and metabolism. Ensure that sleep quality is a top priority for you, especially if the sleeplessness has been habitual. If you practice these tips, you may see increased sleep duration and quality. However, consult with your physician if sleeplessness persists or becomes worse.