You have probably experienced the frustration of your brain going into overdrive when your body finally decides to lie down and rest. How do we turn it off and begin to RELAX? There’s the obvious tips, like avoiding caffeine at night and making the room dark. Here’s a few more useful tips to help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer, so you can wake up feeling rested and refreshed... This first one may surprise you! Contrary to all the sleep sources that say to avoid napping during the day in order to sleep better at night, it is actually a good idea to nap every day. But in order to make this work it is vital to stick to three rules:
- Nap regularly. By napping at the same time every day, your body will start to regulate itself to fall asleep more quickly at that time
- Keep it short. Only nap for 20 minutes. A 20-minute power nap provides enough sleep to feel refreshed and more alert, yet it won’t interfere with falling asleep at night
- Make it in the early afternoon. The optimal time is 20 to 30 minutes after lunch, which is when your body is naturally inclined to feel sleepy, and early enough in the day to not interfere with falling asleep at night.
Other Vital Tips: Get out in the sunlight soon after waking up in the morning.
When you wake up, don’t lounge around in bed. Don’t even stay inside. Get out in the morning sun soon after getting up. The bright sunlight (or any bright light) tells your body’s natural biological clock that it’s time to wake up, and that same clock will then be set to tell your body it’s time to go to sleep about 14 to 16 hours later. Avoid taking a hot bath.
The body needs to lower its temperature in order to fall asleep a hot bath will actually keep you up. If you find a hot bath relaxing, finish your bath at least two hours before your bedtime so that your body has enough time to cool down. Make sure to give your body at least an hour to cool down after a bath and prior to going to bed. Make your room colder.
Your body needs to cool down in order to fall asleep and stay asleep, so do what you can to make your room cool. Exercise intensely.
Don’t just “exercise,” but do so intensely, to the point of feeling physical exhaustion. For some this may mean running 5 miles, for others it may mean a brisk 20 minute walk that elevates the heart rate. Physical tiredness is essential to getting a good night’s sleep. Block out noise.
White noise is restful. A fan is ideal because it does double duty of providing consistent soft background noise as well as keeping the room cool. Similarly, an air cleaner will serve to help keep your room free of dust and provide white noise. You can also buy a white noise machine or download an app for your phone that will provide several white noise options – the sound of rain, a babbling brook, wind, and more. Don’t watch TV.
Avoid watching TV, or looking at an iPad, laptop, or any type of screen, at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Watching TV and going online are both mentally and visually stimulating. It may feel physically restful, but these activities stimulate the brain instead of helping the brain wind down enough to fall into sleep. What do you think? Do you have a tip that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments. Sweet Dreams!