Daylight savings has passed, and with it, another hour of the day. No wonder today has been coined National Nap Day! If you’ve had trouble sleeping, you know how exhausting it can be to lose sleep. Sleeping well can be just as critical to your health as regular exercise and a healthy diet. That’s why we’ve sought out our favorite tips to help you get more rest – and feel more rested with the hours you do get.
1. Be Careful What You Consume
Have you ever had a cup of coffee too late in the day and paid for it while trying to fall asleep? Some studies have shown that caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for six to eight hours. If you want to sleep as well as possible during the night, try not to drink any coffee during the afternoon. This applies to caffeine from chocolate, too!
2. Increase Bright Light Exposure During Daytime
Natural sunlight or bright light that you see throughout the day will help you sleep at night by keeping your circadian rhythm consistent. For those with insomnia, exposure to bright light during the day also reduced the amount of time it took to fall asleep by 83%. If you can’t spend a lot of time outside, bright blue light bulbs could help.
3. Watch When You Eat
A midnight snack might be more insidious than it seems. If you eat too much right before bedtime, you might lose out on both sleep quality and the natural release of melatonin. On the other hand, one study showed that eating about four hours before bed actually helped people fall asleep faster. Timing is everything.
4. Don’t Underestimate a Comfortable Mattress and Pillow
Some studies have shown that poor quality sleep, back pain and shoulder stiffness can result from a bad mattress or pillow that doesn’t suit your body. It’s easy to underestimate these basic aspects of sleep, but they matter much more than we realize.
5. Reduce Blue Light Exposure At Night
You’ve basically convinced your body that it’s daytime by looking at blue light during the day. But, as evening approaches, you’ll want to avoid blue light as much as you can – especially from TV or smartphone screens. If you use a smartphone at night, you may be able to find apps or settings that reduce this blue light or block it completely.
6. Prepare Your Bedroom
Your bedroom environment is critical to a good night’s sleep. Factors like temperature, noise, external lights and furniture can all play a role in how well you sleep. In one study, around 50% of participants noticed improved sleep quality when light and noise decreased.
7. Exercise Early
Exercise is by far one of the greatest ways for people to improve their health. However, exercising right before bed could do more harm than good. The data still seems to be mixed, but if you want to play it safe, exercising in the morning or a few hours before bed might be best.
8. Relax and Reduce Stress
Do you have a pre-sleep routine or a way to relax before bed? It seems like common sense, but the science agrees – relaxation techniques before bed have been used to treat insomnia. Listening to relaxing music, reading a book, meditating or taking a shower before bed could improve sleep quality.
9. Consider a Supplement
Melatonin is an essential sleep hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to hit the hay. If you’re looking for an established sleep aid, this is one of the better medications to try first. If that doesn’t work, there are a variety of other supplements you could try, including the ginkgo biloba herb, valerian root or lavender.
10. See Your Doctor
If you don’t know why your sleep is suffering, there may be an underlying condition at play. Sleep apnea, in particular, is a harmful and potentially dangerous condition that interrupts breathing during sleep. Other common conditions include sleep movement disorders, circadian rhythm issues and others.
The information presented in this article does not substitute for professional medical advice. Seek medical attention if you are feeling ill. Information in this article comes from a variety of sources with special thanks to Healthline as well as The National Center for Biotechnology Information.