Ever wonder why you just can’t seem to catch enough winks when you hit the sack at night? Even when you try to put yourself to bed at a reasonable hour, you wake up feeling like you just got hit by a bus. And no amount of sheep counting can seem to calm you down or turn off your upstairs ticker.
Well, tonight might be your lucky night because here are a few things you can do to try to improve your Zzz catching ability.
Put down the phone
With a show of hands, how often do you crawl into bed and immediately unlock your phone to catch up on the latest social media posts before you turn in for the night? Okay, you can put your hand down now. Truth is, a lot of us are guilty of this, but here’s some interesting news for you. That bright little screen in a dark room is not good for your eyes or future sleep. The reason? The blue light from your screen acts to suppress your production of melatonin – a natural compound that helps soothe your mind and put you to sleep. So not only is screen time before bedtime bad for your eyes, it’s also bad for you mind, disrupting your body’s internal clock and rhythm.
Take some melatonin
Speaking of melatonin, if you’re having issues getting to sleep, taking a melatonin supplement can help increase production and get you to sleep faster. In fact, melatonin is frequently used to treat sleep disorders … but don’t think of it as an over-the-counter prescription or drug. Melatonin is a natural component that your body produces on its own. And certain foods that we eat also contain the compound.
What? Did you think exercising was just good for your muscles and taking notches off your belt loop? While it does help with physical appearance and the struggle of dropping a few lbs., it’s also a great mind relaxer. After all, the more tired you are, the better you tend to sleep right? Well, a solid workout can help get you there while also reducing levels of stress and anxiety, two culprits that love to wreak havoc on quality sleep.
Read a book
Instead of turning on the phone after lights out, try opening up a book before lights out. Giving your mind a mental workout can help fatigue your eyes and calm your brain by taking your mind off of today’s “done” list and tomorrow’s to-dos. For me personally, this method is so sure to put me to sleep that I can’t even read while lying down because I won’t make it longer than 5 minutes or about 4 pages.
Adjust your diet
Your body runs on what you put in it. And since your brain is part of your body, that makes your mind run on what you put in it, too. That means staying away from late-night food cravings, sugary treats and anything else that will disturb your body during lie down time. It’s also tough to go to bed on a rumbly tummy, so if you must eat a late-night snack, make it something light with minimal sugar and spice. Yes, that means no cookies or pizza, just to be clear.
Avoid napping during the day
Napping is an immediate gratification that only prolongs the inevitable – a poor night’s sleep. If you use up all your tiredness to take a nap during the day, then you’re throwing off your body’s internal clock and natural rhythm. That means when it’s time to lie down for the day’s grand finale, your mind isn’t sure what time it is or what it should do. But if you must take a nap, make it a power nap, no longer than 30-40 minutes. Anything longer and you’re going to throw a wrench in the cogs of your internal clock.
Contrary to popular belief, beds aren’t meant to last a lifetime. In fact, they say you should replace your mattress after 8 years for optimal comfort. Well, that and the fact that it’s full of dust mites and skin cells. But besides that gross thought, it’s important to know and note what’s comfortable for you. Are you a two-pillow, propped up kind of person? Do you need a body pillow to rest your arm and leg across? Does sleeping on your back make you snore? Firm mattress versus contouring memory foam? When you start thinking about it, the levels of comfort and preference add up quickly. So, it’s important to know what works for you and what doesn’t and then adhere to that sleep checklist.
Stick to a sleep schedule
If your job calls for you to go to bed early and wake up early during the week, but you decide to stay up late and wake up late on the weekends, you’re putting holes in your mind’s plan for quality sleep. Try to find a schedule and stick with it. If you do, you’ll notice that you tend to wake up naturally every morning around the same time without an alarm (although I wouldn’t advise it). Of course, you’re going to have nights that you go to bed later than usual, but try to limit those as much as possible so that you can maintain a healthy sleep rhythm.
Getting quality shuteye doesn’t have to be as difficult as we tend to make it. If you find what works for you and try to stick to these guidelines, then you should be counting sheep with the best of them in no time. 1 … 2 … Zzz ...