Getting a great night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do to maintain a healthy body and mind.
But what if sleep isn’t in the cards?
We’ve all had nights where it doesn’t come easy. From counting metaphorical sheep to literally tossing and turning, restless nights aren’t fun — but they do happen.
Below we’ve sourced our top 23 sleep hacks to help propel you into a healthier and more restful night.
1. Ditch the lights
According to a study by Science Daily, exposure to electrical light around bedtime can affect your ability to fall asleep.
The light can strongly suppress melatonin levels which can cause your internal clock to be reset and may make it difficult to fall, or return, to sleep.
2. Monitor caffeine intake
It may seem like common sense to correlate caffeine with sleep quality, but the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine has narrowed it down to the ideal window of consumption. In a recent study, they found that caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive effects on sleep.
Why? Caffeine reaches a peak level in your blood within 30-60 minutes and has a half-life of 3-5 hours, so it can stay in your body for a long time, even if you don’t feel the alertness you once did.
3. Limit alcohol before bedtime
That glass of wine before bedtime? Probably not the
According to Harvard Medicine, consuming alcohol before bed can compromise the quality of your sleep. Ingesting one or two drinks before you turn down for the night has been shown to cause increased awakenings throughout the night due to the arousal effect alcohol has as it’s metabolized. It’s also been known to worsen sleep apnea.
4. No Netflix before bed
As tempting as it is, try to avoid binge-watching your favorite show as you wind down for the night, especially during the workweek.
A study done by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that nighttime TV was the last waking activity for 45.1% of respondents. Approximately 68.1% reported watching at least some TV in the 2 hours before bedtime. The study also found that giving up evening TV resulted in a reduction of chronic sleep debt. If you want to sleep soundly, pass on the Netflix (for now).
5. Step away from electronics
Blue wavelengths (most commonly used in electronics with screens), are great during daytime hours because they boost mood and reaction times, but can be disruptive at night.
When studying the effects of blue light compared to green, Harvard researchers found that blue light suppressed melatonin for almost twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).
Avoid looking at screens for an hour or so before bedtime for less disruption. Iphones have also recently been updated to include a “Nightshift Mode” which reduces the amount of blue light you’re exposed to as you browse.
6. Exercise more
It’s been proven that exercise can help improve sleep quality.
In a 12-week study on the relationship between exercise and sleep apnea, it was revealed that more than 50% of vigorous and moderate exercisers sleep better on days when they worked out than they did on days when they skipped exercise completely.
7. Take time for you
As you get ready for bed, take a half an hour or so to relax. Take a bath or read a book to begin the relaxation process.
8. Watch your diet
A new study found that eating less fiber, more saturated fat and more sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative, and more disrupted sleep.
“This study emphasizes the fact that diet and sleep are interwoven in the fabric of a healthy lifestyle,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Nathaniel Watson, “For optimal health it is important to make lifestyle choices that promote healthy sleep, such as eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.” (Science Daily)
9. Curb your visits to Facebook
In a recently completed study, researchers at the University of California, Irvine demonstrated that lack of sleep — in addition to affecting busy college students’ moods and productivity — leads to more frequent online activities such as browsing Facebook. Avoid the cycle entirely and get great sleep by staying away from Facebook before bedtime.
10. Adjust your room temperature
Did you know that there’s an optimal sleep temperature? The National Sleep Foundation recommends setting your thermostat to 65 degrees to get your best rest.
11. Clean your room
A clean room could be just what you need to sleep soundly. In a study done by the National Sleep Foundation, 62% of respondents stated that a clean bedroom makes a huge difference.
12. Change your sheets
In that same study, more than three-quarters of respondents also believed that the comfortable feel of sheets and bedding are important to a good night’s rest.
“Respondents perceive a positive impact in sleeping on sheets with a fresh scent, with the majority agreeing that they are more excited to go to bed (78%) and/or that they get a more comfortable night’s sleep (73%) on sheets with a fresh scent.” (National Sleep Foundation Bedroom Poll)
13. Stop snoozing
While it may seem like a great idea at the time, the snooze button is actually doing terrible things for your sleep health.
Instead of getting the extra five minutes of restful sleep, you’re setting your body through what scientists are calling “Sleep Inertia”, which is a period of fragmented, poor-quality sleep that often leads to grogginess throughout the day. This also messes with your circadian cycle, impairing your ability to feel awake throughout the day.
Lesson? Ditch the snooze button.
14. Try the 4-7-8 breath
The 4-7-8 breathing trick is surprisingly simple, and many have claimed that after practicing it, they’ve been able to fall into lasting sleep faster.
Start the process by closing your mouth to inhale through your nose for four counts. Next, hold your breath for seven counts. After that, exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound for eight counts. Follow that pattern for three more cycles or until you find yourself drifting off.
15. Take control of the noise level
We all have our own perfect noise levels for optimal sleep. In fact, 74% of Americans rated a quiet room as important to getting a good night’s sleep in the National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 Bedroom Poll.
If you live in a noisy area, consider getting a white noise machine to drown out city or house noise.
16. Invest in lavender oil
Lavender has been shown to have a calming effect by decreasing heart rates and blood pressure, putting you in a more relaxed state.
Try using a dash of lavender oil on your pillow before you go to bed.
17. When traveling, take your pillow with you
The first night effect is very real. Whether it’s a hotel or at your partner’s home, staying in a new environment for the first time can be unsettling and has the potential to disrupt your sleep.
A new study stated that you can curb this effect by bringing your pillow with you. That sense of familiarity can help you adjust to the new environment quicker.
18. Nap earlier or not at all
According to the Sleep Foundation, optimal nap times (based off of our circadian rhythms) are between 1-3pm. If you want to nap and it’s past 3pm, it will likely disrupt your sleep.
19. Try yoga
The Journal of Nursing Research did a study on elderly residents who had recently incorporated yoga into their weekly routine.
The study showed that after 6 months of yoga, the participants’ overall sleep quality had significantly improved. The study also showed a decrease of depression and sleep disturbances.
20. Keep your feet outside of your covers
Like we mentioned above, a slightly cooler temperature can help your body fall asleep faster.
If you can’t regulate the temperature via thermostat, try keeping your feet outside of your covers.
21. Switch up your bedding
In a 2011 poll, the National Sleep Foundation found that 92 percent of people say a comfortable mattress is important to a good night’s sleep.
If you’re not getting great sleep, a new mattress could be just what you need.
22. 15 Minute Rule
If you find yourself lying in bed for over 15 minutes, get up and walk around. Try doing something else and when you feel tired, move back to your bed and try sleeping again.
23. Wrap up your day.
Don’t go to bed with things on your mind. If you can’t stop thinking, try writing your thoughts down.
Did we miss your favorite sleep hack? Let us know in the comments.