It’s been a long day, and you’re exhausted. After crossing everything off your to-do list for the day and putting the kids to sleep, it’s finally time to take care of yourself. It’s time to get a good night’s sleep. You crawl under the covers, close your eyes, and think happy thoughts – but sleep doesn’t come.
Getting a good night’s sleep is a critical component of maintaining good health. It’s a wellness factor that many overlook. But there are also times when you may want to sleep but just can’t, no matter how hard you try. Insomnia happens on occasion to everyone, but it’s not something you have to live with on a regular basis. There are several easy things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene. These things help condition the body to go to sleep quickly so you can enjoy the benefits of a restful sleep.
Eliminate Ambient Lighting
A darkened room tells your body that it’s time to go to sleep. Any light still present in your room after turning off the main light can negatively affect your circadian rhythm, causing you to have trouble falling asleep. It doesn’t take much light to throw your system off balance. Nightlights, LED lights on clocks, and other sources can all be problematic.
Your room should be dark when you go to bed. If there is an ambient light source in your bedroom, either turn the light source off or cover it up. Also, if streetlights or another source of light shines into your bedroom through a window, consider installing thicker curtains to block the light.
Create the Right Environment
Making sure the environment around you is ideal for sleeping can go a long way in helping you go to sleep at night. You don’t have to do anything elaborate. In addition to eliminating ambient lighting, also be sure there isn’t a distracting source of noise around you, either. White noise, like the gentle sound of a running fan, however, may help you sleep better.
You also want to make sure the room you sleep in is relatively cool. A hot environment can disturb your sleep. Also, make sure any pets you may have are kept out of the sleeping area at night.
Stick to a Schedule
Your body’s circadian rhythm is very powerful. Going to bed at different times each evening can be very confusing to your body and can contribute to insomnia.
If you go to bed at a certain time each night for a period of time, your body will get used to a schedule. If you are used to going to bed at 11 pm each night, for example, your body will know it’s time to go to sleep when 11 pm rolls around.
Develop a Routine
Developing a routine of things you do before going to bed is a powerful way to set the stage for a good night’s sleep. Once you get into a set routine, you will start thinking about going to sleep when you do those things every night. This sends signals to your brain that it’s almost time to shut down for the night.
There are many things you can do in your routine. It’s personal for each individual. You could take a hot bath, for example, or read a book. You could also enjoy a hot cup of cocoa, do some yoga, or meditate for a while.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol of the Evenings
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. As such, it stands to reason that you should avoid consuming it in any form in the hours before you go to bed. Caffeine isn’t just found in coffee and soft drinks. It’s also found in some of the foods we eat like chocolate, frozen yogurt, and ice cream. Even decaffeinated coffee still contains some caffeine, so it’s best to avoid all forms of coffee before going to bed.
Consuming alcohol prior to going to sleep at night can also be problematic. Although alcohol can make you drowsy, it can be disruptive to your sleep, causing you to wake frequently throughout the night.
Take Naps Early in the Day
A nap during the day can do a lot to rejuvenate your energy and help you get things done. Naps are good for us. But a nap taken later in the day can actually contribute to insomnia at bedtime. If you like to take naps, be sure to take a short nap early in the day so it does not upset your sleep schedule.
If you take short naps early in the day and still experience insomnia, consider eliminating naps altogether to see if it makes it any easier to fall asleep at night. If it doesn’t make any difference, then you can always go back to enjoying your daily nap.
Avoid Eating Late in the Evenings
For some, eating a big meal late of the evenings can contribute to insomnia. This is especially true for people who experience indigestion. If you have trouble falling asleep after eating a large meal, consider eliminating any late night meals. If you feel hungry, a light snack of healthy fruit can eliminate cravings.
You could experiment with your eating schedule for a while to see if it makes a difference in how quickly you fall asleep at night. To experiment, cut out all snacking after dinner for a few weeks to see if it helps.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Your body needs plenty of rest to recuperate after a strenuous workout. And exercise actually contributes to getting a good night’s sleep by releasing certain hormones that tell the body it needs sleep.
Like eating and napping, exercising late of the evenings can also contribute to insomnia. For best results, be sure to finish your exercise routine at least three hours before it’s time to go to bed.
Take Control of Your Sleep
Just as your body needs food and water to live, you also need to get a good night’s sleep each and every night. By implementing these simple strategies, you can fall asleep easier, sleep more soundly, and feel more rested each and every morning.
The author learned to sleep well at nights by implementing good sleep hygiene. Read more about him at his website.