How To Sleep Better At Night
Getting enough quality sleep is something that many people struggle with – but while most of us know that sleep is crucial for good health, it’s easy to forget just how important it is.
If you’re not getting adequate sleep, then it’s all too easy to lose concentration, feel depressed, irritable, run down, and forgetful. What’s more, a lack of sleep can accelerate skin aging effects, and it’s even been linked to obesity.
But to make matters worse, modern day pressures and expectations can take their toll on your sleep patterns. Whether anxiety and worries are keeping you awake, or you simply find yourself not having enough time to get a good night’s sleep, creating an effective sleep schedule can really help to reduce some of these problems.
So in this guide, I’m going to share the best tips and advice I have for repairing your sleep schedule and finding the time to get the quality, undisturbed rest that your body needs to fully repair and regenerate each night. So let’s begin! 🙂
How Much Sleep Should I Have Each Night?
Ideally, you should aim for around 8 hours of sleep each night. While it’s possible to cope with less, most people will feel fully refreshed after this amount of time. In fact, I’ve found that you may need a little more this than this you’re very active or have a tough daily exercise routine – because your body needs the time to repair.
The key to getting this 8 hours of quality sleep begins by setting a regular sleep schedule. This can be as simple as going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. However, this can be easier said than done, so let’s take a closer look.
Melatonin is a hormone which can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Simply put, it regulates your sleep cycle, and one of the things that cause a natural increase of melatonin production is light exposure.
In general, melatonin levels are low during the day, when it’s bright. This helps to keep you alert and awake during daylight hours. But in the evening, these levels steadily increase, until a natural feeling of sleepiness allows you to drift off naturally when bedtime comes.
Something that tends to upset this natural cycle is bright lights, computers, and televisions. Nowadays, many people spend their evenings in front of technology, and the unnatural exposure to evening light can reduce your production of melatonin. The knock on effect of this is that it becomes harder to sleep when you want to.
Personally, I’m not a fan of most sleeping pills. But if you need a hand with resetting your sleep patterns and increasing your melatonin levels in the evening, something I’ve found that works quite well is Melatrol. If you’re interested in this, it’s worth checking out my full review, where I go in-depth on the pros and cons of these supplements.
Reduce Evening Technology Use
While it’s perfectly fine to use your computer or watch TV in the evenings, you may want to cut back on this during the final few hours of your evening. Try not to use any device which has a strong backlight, as this will keep you awake for longer.
You may also want to consider changing the light bulbs in your room. If you have a particularly bright light in your main living areas, these can be reducing your natural production of melatonin and making it harder for you to sleep. Nowadays, it’s quite easy to find lower wattage bulbs which don’t have the same bright intensity that keeps you awake.
Take A Warm Bath
About an hour before your usual bedtime, take a warm bath. Not only can this be very relaxing, but the temperature (so long as it isn’t too hot) can help to induce a sleepy feeling that will persist to the bedroom (as long as your room isn’t freezing cold, of course).
If you crave your coffee in the evening, then try switching to a decaffeinated brand – but otherwise, it’s best to cut the caffeine entirely after 2pm. This applies to coffee, but also to certain energy drinks with high caffeine quantities, too. The effects of caffeine can be active for anything up to 12 hours, so if you’re struggling to sleep at night – this should be one of the first culprits to check.
Make Your Bedroom Inviting
Ensuring that your bed (and bedroom) is as comfortable as possible can make it easier to fall asleep at night. A good mattress can really help. You may even consider something like a memory foam mattress, which molds to your body shape as it becomes warmer. This can make for a comfortable night’s sleep, without any discomfort or physical pressure points that can be distracting.
If you’re not planning to buy a whole new mattress, a cheaper option is to lay another duvet under the bed sheet for added comfort, as well as investing in a luxurious duvet and pillow.
Keep The Room As Dark As Possible
If you’re exposed to light while you’re sleeping, it possible that it may keep you awake, and ultimately disturb your sleep cycle. Any light you’re exposed to could have an impact on your melatonin levels, too.
Ideally, you’ll sleep in a room that’s absent of all light – but at the very least, you need to keep the room as dark as possible. This could mean buying some effective curtains and changing any luminous clocks or devices that have blinking lights. The easiest thing to do is to use something to cover the light or unplug the device entirely.
If it’s not possible or convenient to change anything in the room (perhaps you’re a guest in someone else’s home) then using an eye mask can help to some degree. The key here is to make your sleeping environment as dark as you can because this will make it easier to have undisturbed, high-quality sleep.
Be Careful With Napping
When you’re having problems sleeping at night, it’s tempting to have a nap later in the day to make up for those lost hours. This can be fine in some cases, but if you’re still struggling to sleep a solid 8 hours at night (or you find it difficult to drift off when you finally go to bed) then you may need to skip the nap and do your best to stay awake until your usual bedtime.
Having a nap for a few hours in the afternoon can make it much harder to get to sleep later in the night, and it can even begin a cycle of insomnia. If you really must have a nap, try to limit it to a short time duration – no longer than an hour.
Get Regular Exercise
A daily exercise routine will tire you out, relax your body, and ultimately make it easier to sleep. This is especially important for people who aren’t very active in the day due to their job. While you may feel mentally drained and ready to sleep, your body may not follow suit if it hasn’t been very active physically.
One caveat to this is that it isn’t best to exercise too late in the evening. If you exercise just before going to bed, you may find that it’s harder to sleep, because physical activity tends to make you more alert and awake for a few hours afterward.
Take Off The Pressure
Sometimes you may find yourself trying to “force” yourself to sleep through sheer willpower. But putting pressure on yourself to nod off is a very ineffective tactic, and usually, makes the situation worse.
If you find yourself lying in bed without being able to sleep, try to resign yourself to just ‘lying down and relaxing’, without any pressure to actually ‘sleep’. Even if you’re not sleeping, you’re still relaxing and resting your body which is a good thing. Even a few hours of complete rest is more beneficial than several hours of tossing, turning, and pressuring yourself into doing something that’s not within your direct control. Who knows, you may even drift off naturally once the pressure has been taken away.
Should I Use Sleeping Pills?
I’m not a fan of most sleeping pills because I feel the side effects can often outweigh the benefits. But of course, if you have real trouble sleeping, you should consult a doctor and follow their professional advice.
But something that can help is certain ‘natural’ sleeping pills, which manage to sidestep the unwanted morning drowsiness side effects. One of my favorites is Melatrol, which helps to improve your natural melatonin production. It’s worth checking out when you’re stuck with sleepless nights.