We’ve all been there: it’s 3 AM, and you’re tossing and turning–agonizing over having to be up in a couple of hours. Turns out, a staggering 68%–or 164 million Americans–struggle with sleep at least once per week. Here, we’ll give you ten quick and easy tips to get more Zs so you’ll be ready to take on the world when you wake up.
1. Get up at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends)
Our bodies get used to our habits, and while sleeping in or “catching up on sleep” feels heavenly in the moment, it wreaks havoc on your sleep cycle. Following a routine will help you get to sleep quicker and stay asleep for longer, and it will also improve the quality of your sleep.
2. Tame your tension
One of the largest factors that lead to both an inability to fall asleep and a poor quality of sleep is stress. If you find yourself too anxious or stressed out to hit the hay, it can help to relieve some of the tension in your body before nodding off.
Try doing a body scan. Lie on your back and focus on your breathing. Slowly turn your attention to the top of your head, noting any tension you feel and then breathing into the space to release it. Slowly move your attention down your body, working all the way to the very tips of your toes. One helpful visual is imagining the tension as hot wax melting away as you breathe. Another one is to imagine water flowing from your head to your toes, or each part of your body slowly sinking into sand as you conduct your scan.
3. Say no to the nap
If you nap a couple of hours before bed, your body will be confused when you try to go to sleep at night. Try and fight the urge of a post-work catnap, and you’ll more readily fall asleep when you’re supposed to.
4. Turn off the time
Checking the time on your alarm clock or phone every couple of minutes as you restlessly toss and turn in bed will quickly become an obsession. The stress of repeatedly checking your device- along with the blue light from the screen- will only make falling asleep that much harder. Try putting your phone or alarm clock somewhere you can’t see it.
5. Don’t panic if you wake up
If you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep within 15–30 minutes, try switching it up. Go to another room and do something calming like reading a book. Then, when you start to feel sleepy, you can nod off in your new location or head back to bed.
6. Light it up
Increasing your exposure to bright light during the day will strengthen your body’s 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. If you can get your face into natural light during the day, do so. Your circadian rhythm will thank you.
7. Cut the caffeine
This one seems fairly intuitive, but with 90% of the U.S. population consuming caffeine, we figured it should have its own place in this post. Never consume caffeine late in the day if you can help it. One study showed consuming caffeine even up to 6 hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality.
8. Find your goldilocks temperature
Not too hot…not too cold. One study found that bedroom temperature affected sleep quality more than external noise. While everyone’s ideal sleeping temperature will be different, a good baseline is somewhere around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Skip the snack
Countless studies show that eating late at night may negatively affect both sleep quality and the natural release of HGH and melatonin. So, unless it’s a must, try skipping that bowl of late-night ice cream.
10. Exercise earlier
Exercising can elevate your body temperature and stimulate the cortisol levels in your bloodstream to rise. If you plan to do a high-intensity workout, aim to have it done three hours before you hit the hay. Otherwise, low-impact exercises such as stretching, yoga, or slow-paced walks can help promote sleep.
There you have it — ten quick and easy tips to help you sleep!
Interested in more mental health tips? Read our blog post on 5 ways to balance work and life