Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to our overall health and well-being. It can affect our mood, stress levels, diet, and productivity. There are many ways to beat insomnia, and increase the quality of your sleep. The first step is figuring how much sleep is right for you. Most people need about eight hours of sleep to function at their best, but this may differ from person-to-person. Here are five tips that can help you to fall asleep easily and stay asleep.
1. Unplug early. It may be tempting to watch television or play Candy Crush until you fall asleep, but the light from televisions, computers, and cell phones are known to disrupt your sleep cycle. Exposure to light during the time you are supposed to be sleeping can disrupt your body’s internal clock. When it is time to fall asleep, turn off all sources of light, and be sure to shut the blinds and cover up your alarm clock. You may even want to consider sun-blocking window shades if you tend to wake up as soon as the sun rises.
2. Eat mindfully before bed. It may be helpful to allow eat least two hours between dinner and bedtime since a full stomach can interrupt sleep. At the same time, a completely empty stomach can also make it difficult to fall asleep. If you r stomach is growling before bed, be sure to have a snack. Try tryptophan-rich foods such as turkey, yogurt, tuna, and peanuts, which can help the body produce serotonin in order to relax (source). Chamomile tea can also help the body and mind to calm down, but do not drink too many fluids or else you will find yourself waking up for a bathroom break in the middle of the night.
3. Stick with caffeine in the morning. It can be tempting to get that afternoon Starbucks when you find yourself falling asleep on your desk at 3 pm, but caffeine lasts in your system for 8-12 hours. This means that when you attempt to fall asleep later, you will most likely be staring at your ceiling. If you really need an energy boost in the afternoon, try a cup of green tea. Eight ounces of green tea contains about 35mg of caffeine, versus 100 to 200 mg in a cup of black coffee.
4. Exercise. Physical activity is known to promote sleep, especially if you have a sedentary job. Try working out in the morning or during your lunch break, as an intense workout at night may increase your heart rate and cause you to feel wired. It you are an evening exerciser, try yoga which can calm the mind and muscles.
5. Stay on schedule. It is important to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day. Varying your sleeping times by more than an hour can severely disrupt your sleep quality by breaking your circadian rhythm. Figure out what time at night you start to get tired and stick with this time every night. Try waking up without an alarm, and see what time is natural for you. It may be tempting to sleep several more hours during weekends, but you may experience insomnia if you let yourself sleep those extra couple of hours.
There are other helpful methods to getting a good night’s sleep such as meditation, deep breathing, noise-makers, and melatonin supplements. Make your bedroom comfortable and only a place where you sleep. It is important to experiment and figure out what works best for you. A great night’s sleep will ensure better moods, increased energy, and staying sharp and focused throughout the day.