On average, adults spend about one-third of their lives in bed. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if that time was actually spent asleep, without all the tossing, turning, and drifting in and out? Follow these seven tips to create optimal sleeping habits for better, deeper slumber.
#1 Record Patterns
Everyone has a different relationship with sleep, and everyone’s sleep is affected by various factors. Start a sleep journal to keep track of potential influences, including:
- Hours in bed each night
- Number of times you wake up
- Daytime naps
- Time of last big meal
- Caffeine intake or other medications
For even more in-depth data, download a sleep app that detects nighttime movements to discern how much time you spent in various phases of sleep, how many times you snoozed your alarm, and how (and how much) you snored. After about two weeks, you should have enough data to begin making some adjustments.
#2 Develop a Consistent Routine
When you were a teenager, did you make fun of your parents for going to bed at 9:30 pm every night? Then again, maybe they were onto something. Adhering to a regular sleep schedule will maintain your body’s circadian rhythm (internal clock) and make it easier for you to fall asleep each subsequent night.
Unfortunately, this applies to weekends as well. Your circadian rhythms don’t take the day off just because you do. The closer you can align your weekday and weekend sleep schedules, the more well-rested you’ll feel over time.
Of course, you can’t always adhere to such a strict bedtime. When you are feeling especially worn out, try not to elongate your nighttime sleep, even on a Sunday dramatically. Instead, lie down for a quick (actually quick, not oops-I-fell-asleep-at-four-and-now-it’s-seven “quick”) daytime snooze. As much as we all hate to hear it, and don’t want to believe it, the perfect length for a nap is just 20 minutes.
#3 Set Your Thermostat to The Right Temperature
Most experts say a cooler air temperature is better for sleep. “Cooler” isn’t one specific number, but for most people, hovering around 65°F is a safe bet. If this feels excessively frigid to you, though, you’re better off raising it a few degrees than suffering through the chill just because “science says so.” Or, you could invest in a smart thermostat that can be programmed according to your needs.
Everyone’s own internal thermostat is calibrated a little differently. But if you happen to share a room with your partner, you better hope your systems are synced up.
#4 Minimize Background Noise
The issue affecting sleep isn’t necessarily the presence of sound itself, but rather sudden bursts of noise that jar you out of your once peaceful sleep, like a door slamming or police siren passing by your window. You can even be awoken by the sudden absence of noise, like when you fall asleep in front of the TV, and your roommate clicks it off.
You can’t control the noises around you, but you can control which noises you hear. Pick up a sound machine to create an even, peaceful soundscape around you that will block out those extraneous crashes or clangs.
#5 Avoid Eating Late at Night
For many, midnight snacking is a difficult habit to break. If what you’re after is a better night’s sleep, however, curbing your appetite should be #1 on this year’s list of resolutions.
Try to leave at least two or three hours between your last meal and when you lie down to sleep. Not only does eating right before bed slow your digestion, but it also leaves your body on high alert, which can throw off your natural sleep cycle.
#6 Turn Off the Tech Before Bed
What’s the last thing you do every night before bed? Scroll through Instagram to make sure you haven’t missed anything? Absentmindedly let about a hundred videos auto-play on Facebook? Check your Google Calendar and make a to-do list in your Notes app?
Using your phone before bed, even with that fancy bedtime blue light filter, will increase mental stimulation and decrease melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep (and stay asleep).
#7 Late Night Exercise
As good as it feels to succumb to those after-dinner sleepies, a burst of high-intensity exercise before bed will result in better, deeper sleep. In general, regular exercise will increase the amount of deep sleep you experience. Still, vigorous exercise in the evening will also tire you out and, in the best way possible, knock you out.
Time for Bed
Often, people who struggle with sleep will opt for supplements like melatonin gummies to solve their problems. While these are likely to show improvements, sometimes a few simple behavioral adjustments and a new gadget or two are all they need. So, slip into your comfiest pajamas, climb between your softest sheets, put your dang phone away, and enjoy these seven ways of getting a deeper, more restful sleep.