It seems like we’re always on a quest for that magic formula that will tell us how to sleep better. In this increasingly non-stop world, everyone — children and adults — is having a harder and harder time getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. The New Yorker reports, “According to Charles Czeisler, the chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, over the past five decades our average sleep duration on work nights has decreased by an hour and a half, down from eight and a half to just under seven. Thirty-one per cent of us sleep fewer than six hours a night, and sixty-nine per cent report insufficient sleep.” Those are scary statistics!
Not only does sleep deprivation make you irritable and less productive, it can be hazardous to your health. In the short-term, you’re more prone to accidents and depression; over time it can impact your immune system and quality of life. So let’s find out how to get better sleep before it’s too late!
1. Turn Off All Electronic Devices There are so many reasons why our numerous devices keep us awake. First, you need to allow your brain time to wind down before bed and answering one last work email at 11pm keeps your mind in work mode well into the night. Is there anything less relaxing? Even texting friends can have the same effect. Then there’s the light issue. The blue light emitted by our devices (including e-readers) can trick our brains into thinking it’s daytime, which can seriously disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Read Related: Go Ahead, Hit Snooze: 10 Health Benefits of Sleep
2. Yoga or Relaxation Exercises In order to know how to sleep better, you need to know how to relax better. Doing as little as six minutes of yoga or breath control before bedtime to ease muscle tension and focus on relaxation can make a world of difference in how quickly you fall asleep as well as how soundly. Om.
3. Cool Down You know how icky it is when your pillow feels hot and your sheets are clinging to your legs. Research has shown that 66° is the optimal temp but turning down the thermostat just a few degrees at bedtime can make a world of difference in your quality of sleep. A cooling cap also helps — as long as you don’t mind looking a little silly during the night. Think mini hibernation.
4. Write Away Worries Aside from time, stress and worries are two of the major obstacles to a deep, restful sleep. Take 15 minutes before bed to write down everything that’s currently stressing you out: problems that need solving; personal conflicts, kids, pets…everything. Now don’t start worrying — there’s no need to come up with solutions, just getting it all off your chest will free your mind for a peaceful night.
5. Late-Night Snack Just about every diet forbids eating after 8pm, warning that your body won’t have time to digest and use up the calories as efficiently. This is true. It’s also true that hunger pangs are definitely not sleep aids. Having a very small (under 200 calories) bedtime snack can help you sleep better without packing on pounds. Obviously caffeine and sugar are no-nos but carbs and protein are great, as well as foods containing things like tryptophan (turkey) or melatonin (walnuts).