Everyone knows that getting plenty of deep, restorative sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. But the stresses and demands of daily life can interfere with your ability to sleep soundly. Even worse—it’s easy to allow a vicious cycle of high stress and troubled sleep to become the norm.
By adopting a few good nightly habits, you can begin to establish a healthy sleep cycle, restore your nightly rest and feel refreshed and energetic during the day.
Give Yourself a Bedtime
Most children are told to go to bed at the same time every night, but it’s important for adults to maintain a regular bedtime, as well. By falling asleep and waking up at the same time every night (yes, even on weekends!), you can establish a regular sleep-wake cycle and encourage more restful sleep. Once your body is used to the routine, you will begin to naturally fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day.
Don’t Toss and Turn
There is an exception to the bedtime rule: if you don’t fall asleep in about 15 minutes, get up and do something soothing (like reading a book or taking a hot bath) before returning to bed. Lying in bed and stressing over a lack of sleep can backfire and leave you tossing and turning all night.
There are some of us that just need those daily naps. For most, however, frequent napping can just make nighttime insomnia worse. Consider eliminating daytime naps, and if you need to make up for lost sleep or get a mid-afternoon energy boost, restrict your nap to less than 30 minutes.
Develop a Before-Bed Routine
Get into the habit of relaxing before bed to boost your body’s natural production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Don’t watch TV or browse the internet for a few hours before bed—the light from the screens will suppress melatonin production. Ban your smartphone from the bedroom so you’re not tempted to check emails in bed. Instead, read a few chapters of a book (as long on it’s not on a backlit e-reader or tablet!) or meditate. When it’s time to turn in, make sure the room is completely dark—that will tell your body it’s sleep time.
It can be difficult to change bad sleep habits, but by establishing a routine and sticking to it, you will begin to sleep deeply every night and feel rested and restored every day.