Scientifically Backed Ways to Improve Your Sleep
#1 Build Yourself a Sound Sleep Routine
Everybody naturally has a wake-sleep cycle; we call this our circadian rhythm. It revolves around controlling the release of melatonin – the hormone responsible for making you sleepy. The best way to ensure a good night sleep is sticking to a sleep routine, waking and retiring the same time each day.
#2 Avoid Sleep Interfering Chemicals
Simply everyday products we all know and love can have detrimental effects on our sleep. Every coffee lover knows not to be drink caffeine prior to retiring for the evening. Avoid anyway caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other similar stimulants roughly 4-6 hours before going to bed – these can dramatically impact the length and quality of your rest.
#3 Turn Your Bedroom into an Inviting and Sleep- Inducing Environment
A dark, quiet and cool and well ventilated environment can promote a deep sleep, noises and bright lights will disrupt your sleep (even the standby light on your appliances have been proven to impact your rest). Turn off appliances, close your curtains and wear a sleep mask or ear plugs to dull any extra sensory stimulus.
It may help to limit your bedroom activities to sleep. Keeping computers, TVs, and work materials out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.
#4 Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine
Light reading before bed is a good way to prepare you for sleep. Ease the transition from wakefulness to sleep time with a period of relaxation prior to bed, take a bath, do some light stretching or read a book.
Avoid stressful and stimulating activities such as work, discussing emotional issues or hard physical exercise. Physical activity and psychological stress causes an increase in cortisol – the hormone in your body which increases alertness.
#5 Do Not Clock Watch
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, and limit the use of bright and blue-light emitting appliances such as phones, computers and TV’s. If this is unavoidable, invest in a pair of blue-light blocking glasses to reduce the impact on your melatonin levels.
#7 Nap Early—Or Not at All
Napping can easily decrease sleep drive, if you are someone who struggles with sleep, try avoid napping altogether, for those who love to indulge, limit naps to half an hour and preferably before 5pm
#8 Lighten Up on Evening Meals
Set your dinner schedule at least four hours prior to bedtime, giving your body ample time to begin digestion. Devouring a pepperoni pizza at 10pm may be a recipe for insomnia. Avoid foods that cause indigestion and if you get hungry at night, snack on foods that (in your experience) won't disturb your sleep, perhaps dairy foods and carbohydrates.
#9 Exercise Early
Exercise increases your body’s level of cortisol, which activates the alerting mechanisms in your brain, negating the effects of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Exercise has been proven to promote a deep, restful sleep, but only if it done several hours before sleep. Wrap up strenuous activity at least three hours prior to bed, or if possible, workout earlier in the day.