This story appeared on Priority Health’s ThinkHealth blog. Read more here.
Few things are better than a good night’s sleep, just like there’s nothing quite like that crummy feeling after a bad night’s sleep. We all know sleep is important to our overall wellbeing, but it’s not always easy to get a good night’s sleep.
Here are five tips for falling ─ and staying ─ asleep.
1. Stick to a schedule.
Your body clock works best when your sleep schedule is consistent. Set a bedtime that ensures you get at least eight hours of sleep–you can even program an alert on your phone to remind yourself when it’s time to power down and go to bed. For many, weekday and weekend sleep schedules differ, but experts say it’s best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Being consistent with your sleep schedule helps your body maintain its sleep-wake cycle.
2. Promote a restful environment.
Treat your bedroom like a sleep sanctuary, outfitted for your sleep needs. Limit the amount of light exposure while sleeping, including digital clocks, TV screens and even streetlights. Consider blackout curtains or a sleep mask to make your room as dark as possible. A cool room is typically ideal for sleeping–not too hot or cold. Cut back on the amount of time you spend watching TV or working on your laptop in your bedroom; you want your brain to associate the bedroom with sleeping, not work emails or your latest Netflix binge.
3. Limit caffeine intake.
Many of us rely on an afternoon cup of joe to carry us through the workday, but that 3 p.m. latte could be affecting your sleep more than you know. Caffeine can stay in your system for more than 6 hours, long enough that it can keep you from falling asleep later that night. Limit caffeine to mornings and early afternoons—and don’t use it as a replacement for a good night’s rest.
4. Get regular exercise.
You know regular exercise is good for your body, but it’s also linked to better, more restful sleep. A poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that people who engage in regular daily exercise report sleeping better most nights than non-exercisers. A brisk walk or gym session helps improve daytime alertness and helps you feel sleepier come bedtime. Benefits of staying healthy with regular exercise also include reduced rates of sleep-altering disorders like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
5. Don’t force it.
Sometimes sleep just won’t happen no matter how tired we think we are. If you find yourself lying in bed tossing and turning, get up and engage in another activity for a few minutes. Make yourself a cup of decaffeinated tea, read a book or do another relaxing activity in another part of the house to reset your brain and then give sleep another go. Keep the lights dim to avoid waking yourself up too much.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, ideally all adults should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night. So be sure to hit the hay with enough time to snooze peacefully, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed—and ready to win your day.