How can you sleep better and get more rest? It’s not as difficult as you may think – but precious few are making the concept a priority. Proper rest is essential, after all, especially if you want to show up at work bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to take on the day. Unfortunately, the National Sleep Foundation reports that nearly 45% of Americans are affected by poor sleep in their daily routines. So how can you catch more ZZZs? Check out these simple life hacks that, if used correctly, will help your body make the most of those eight hours and discover how to sleep better and get more rest on a running basis.
Power Down – Busy checking memes before bedtime? Make sure you turn your screens off at least an hour before you turn in. The soft, bluish glow from our electronic pacifiers has been proven to disrupt your sleep cycle. So, the sooner you can turn off your TV, laptop or smartphone, the readier you’ll be to catch some ZZZs.
Hide Your Alarm Clock – Not so that you can’t find it in the morning. But definitely so that you’re not tempted to look at it every 10 minutes. Not only does doing so unwittingly start your blood circulating again — which will keep you awake — but it’s also habit-forming.
Use a Leg Pillow – Lots of sleep loss can be caused by back and joint pain. While it’s not a magical cure-all when it comes to learning how to sleep better, sleeping on your side with a pillow tucked between your knees will help to align your spine and relieve some of that pesky back pain so you can nod off in peace.
Seal Your Mattress – If you find yourself prone to nighttime sniffles and coughs, you might have a mattress full of dust mites and miniature creepy crawlies. Sealing your mattress with an air-tight, plastic, dust-proof cover can shield it from mold, mite droppings, and other allergy-causing bacteria. Cover your box springs and pillows, too, to sleep even more soundly.
Let There Be Light – When you wake up, even though it might sting your eyes, seek out a spot with bright light for anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. Doing so will help your body clock correlate morning time with brightness and alertness, and you’ll be able to wake up feeling more rested, with your energy properly conserved.
No Caffeine After Noon – So much for all those espressos and Red Bulls. As farfetched as it may sound, swearing off coffee and soda in the afternoon hours can actually help you sleep better. Even trace amounts of caffeine found in chocolate and candy can affect your sleep cycle late into the day.
Don’t Work Out Near Bedtime – Undertaking vigorous physical exercise less than three to four hours before you plan to sleep can keep your body in a state of high activity, making it very difficult to fall asleep. Instead, try more low-key workouts, like yoga or tai chi, which are great pre-sleep rituals. Learning how to sleep better and get more rest is simpler if you don’t get in the habit of getting physically worked up before it’s time to turn in.
Drink Wisely – True, alcohol can make you sleepy (FYI: it can also keep you awake, so skip it before turning in), but we’re talking about water, here. To lower your chance of nighttime trips to the bathroom, avoid drinking anything up to two hours before bedtime. If you do have to go, try keeping a night light in your bathroom, so you don’t have to turn on the bright lights and wake yourself up even more.
Lower Your Lights – Did you know that lower light levels signal our bodies to produce melatonin — the hormone that regulates sleep? Dim all the lights around your home about two to three hours before bedtime and, if you read or write in the evening, try using a 15-watt bulb one hour before you turn in.
Away With Animals – As much as we love the idea of sleeping next to a snoring hound or a purring kitty, their nightly twitching and squirming can keep you awake. In addition, they can bring all sorts of allergy triggers such as dander, fleas, fur and pollen into your bed. It’s probably best for your sleep and sanity if your four-legged friends sleep elsewhere.