A good night’s sleep has benefits for your whole body, from improving your mood to reducing your risk for heart disease and obesity. Along with exercise and diet, getting enough good-quality sleep is one of the best ways to improve your whole-person health.
We want to help you rest easy every night. So look at these tips for catching some more Zs.
Set the Scene for Sleep
Good sleep hygiene means preparing yourself and your bedroom for sleep. To support good sleep, we recommend that your bedroom be:
- Cool (67 degrees or lower)
- Dark with little light
- Quiet with little noise
- Free of screens
You shouldn’t keep any electronic screens, including TVs, computers, tablets or phones in your bedroom. The blue light from these screens can interrupt your brain’s circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm uses light, temperature and other factors to determine when you should be asleep and when you should be awake.
If you need light in your room, you can use a small, dim nightlight. We also recommend using a fan to help keep yourself cool and provide soothing white noise that can help you drift off to sleep.
Maintain Healthy Sleep Habits
A sleep routine helps signal your brain that sleep is coming. Your sleep routine may include:
- Brushing your teeth
- Preparing your lunch or coffee for the next day
- Reading a book
- Taking out contacts
- Washing your face
Your sleep routine can be totally personalized to you and your lifestyle. However, it should not include watching TV or looking at your phone within an hour of when you plan to fall asleep.
We recommend you repeat the same actions every night at roughly the same time. Though many people like to sleep in on the weekends, you’ll get better quality sleep if you go to bed and wake up around the same times every day. Repetition helps set your circadian rhythm and makes falling asleep easier.
Eat a Sleep-Friendly Diet
Some foods and beverages can disrupt sleep or make it harder to fall asleep. Caffeine, for instance, can make you feel too awake and prevent you from drifting off. We recommend avoiding caffeine for six hours before you plan to sleep since it has such long-lasting effects.
While alcohol can make it easy to fall asleep, it prevents your brain from entering deep, restful stages of sleep. You may wake up more often and not sleep as well. Avoid alcohol before bed to ensure you get restorative sleep.
Other foods can cause digestive problems that keep you up. Spicy or fatty foods can cause reflux when you lie down. A big meal can also cause discomfort. In general, we suggest you avoid foods that you know you have trouble digesting, whether that’s dairy or fiber, in the hours before bedtime.
Get Moving Earlier in the Day
It’s not just your actions in the evening that affect your sleep; what you do earlier in the day affects sleep quality, too.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve sleep and avoid insomnia. Some studies show regular exercise cuts the time it takes to fall asleep in half.
But it’s exercise that’s performed earlier in the day that can help reinforce a healthy circadian rhythm. It leads to the creation of hormones in the brain that encourage wakefulness and alertness. So doing your exercise earlier in the day will allow you to get the benefit of this jolt of productive energy when it matters most.
Try Relaxing Activities to Fall Asleep
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, pay attention to what your body, mind and spirit are telling you and try a few different relaxation techniques to unwind. Here are a few.
- Avoid looking at the clock
- Drink chamomile tea
- Focus on slowing your breathing
- Take a melatonin supplement
- Take a warm bath or shower
- Write in a journal
We believe everyone should be on the path to a healthy, restful night’s sleep. So if you think your trouble sleeping is due to something more serious, such as insomnia and other sleep disorders, turn to us, your whole-health experts, for help. Find an AdventHealth location with sleep care services near you.