5 Things Great Sleepers Do Differently
Getting a good night's sleep is an important part of overall well-being. It can affect focus, mood, productivity, and mental and physical health. These simple tips can go a long way toward making you rest easy and feel your best when starting your day:
1. No tech before bed.
We're all guilty of it: checking our email one last time, playing one more game, sending out one more tweet right before bed. But these habits can greatly hinder our sleep. Research from the National Sleep Foundation shows that the light emitted from digital devices like tablets, computers, phones, and even televisions signal our brain to stay awake. That's why experts recommend that you turn off these devices at least a half-hour before you go to bed.
Meanwhile, the tech companies are protesting: Some have come up with softer, warmer lighting that kicks in during the night hours to supposedly reduce the interference in our sleep. And a new streaming service, "Napflix," offers an actual platform of programming to help viewers drift off to dreamland. But using products like these may actually have the opposite effect. The brain needs a chance to avoid stimulation before sleeping. So the best bet is to put the devices on sleep mode, silenced and covered. Better yet, move them out of the bedroom entirely.
2. Lessen ambient light interference.
As we now know, artificial light can interfere with your body's natural rhythms and melatonin levels, making it difficult to sleep. So, it's worth it to invest in blackout curtains or blinds: These types of window treatments are both stylish and functional, and they keep any light from entering your bedroom. If you're worried about missing out on natural light during the day, consider adding a blackout liner to your regular curtain. Other options for window shades offer varying degrees of light blockage.
3. Establish a bedtime routine.
When you were a kid, you probably had a bedtime routine that included taking a bath, reading a story, and getting tucked in for the night. Adults need that same kind of routine. For many of us, that means making sure all the doors are locked and the shades are drawn, washing up, and reading a good book (the real paper kind to avoid those electronics). Some people like to take a bath or shower at night and get their clothes and lunch ready for the next day so they feel relaxed and prepared. You may even think about writing down your thoughts from the day or starting a gratitude journal.
Whatever your routine, one of the most important aspects is to set a regular bedtime. Many people think that they can have late nights during the week and then "catch up" on their sleep during the weekend. That's a myth. Setting a regular bedtime is a habit that helps reinforce your body's sleep-wake cycle and helps promote sound sleep.
4. Find the right mattress.
Most people have their mattress for 20 years or more. But you should replace your mattress at least every 10 years. An old, lumpy mattress is not conducive to good sleep. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that medium-firm mattresses are good for most adults, especially those with back pain. However, keep in mind that what works for some people may not work for you. Take your time choosing a mattress that is comfortable and supportive. These days, you can find a mattress that even has different firmness settings for you and your partner. Some mattresses can be raised, lowered, or even heated. Pick the type that's best for you. Keep your bedroom tidy, and try to make your bed every day so that when you do go to sleep, it's a truly relaxing experience.
5. Extra credit
You can block out any remaining light in your room by wearing a sleep mask. If you find yourself more distracted by noise, invest in some wax earplugs (they're about $5 at any drugstore), or download a white noise app on your phone. There are tons of free ones.
Other sleep-promoting tips include turning the heat down at night and eliminating caffeine later in the day. And though you may be tempted, avoid taking that afternoon nap. When you feel tired during the day, get up and move: Daily exercise is another great way to promote quality sleep.
Most of us need at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Getting a good night's sleep can improve your overall performance, memory function, and even mood. Some research suggests that a good night's sleep can even help you avoid weight gain. Implementing these simple tips and routines can help you rest easy for the night.