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Seven tips for better sleep

Seven tips for better sleep

Tired of tossing and turning at night? These simple tips will help you sleep better and be more energetic and productive during the day.

How can I sleep better?

Good sleep directly affects your mental and physical health. It can seriously affect your energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight throughout the day. However, many of us regularly toss and turn at night, trying to sleep.

Check out some tips

Tip 1: Stay in sync with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle

Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. This helps regulate your body's internal clock and optimize your sleep quality. Pick a time for bed when you usually feel tired so it doesn't toss and turn. If you get enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock, you may need an earlier bedtime.

Avoid oversleeping—even on the weekends. The more your weekend/weekly sleep schedules differ, the worse your jetlag-like symptoms will be. If you need to catch up on sleep, opt for a midday nap instead of a nap. This allows you to pay off your sleep debt without disrupting your natural sleep-wake cycle.

Be smart about sleep. While napping is a good way to make up for lost sleep, if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, napping can make things worse. Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon.

Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Among many other health benefits, eating a balanced breakfast can help synchronize your body clock, letting your body know it's time to get up and get going. Skipping breakfast, on the other hand, can delay your blood sugar levels, decrease your energy, and increase your anxiety, factors that can disrupt sleep.

Fight sleepiness after dinner. If you give in to sleepiness, you may wake up later in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep.

Tip 2: Check your exposure to light

During the day

Get exposed to bright sunlight in the morning. The closer to the time you get up, the better. Drink your coffee outside, for example, or have breakfast next to a sunny window. The light on your face will help you wake up.

Spend more time outside during the day. Take your work breaks outside in the sunlight, exercise outside or walk your dog during the day instead of at night.

Let as much natural light into your home or workplace as possible. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day and try to move your desk closer to the window.

If necessary, use a phototherapy box. This simulates sunshine and can be especially useful during the short days of winter.

The night

Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer or TV is particularly annoying. You can minimize the impact by using devices with smaller screens, dimming, or using light-altering software such as f.lux.

Say no to late night TV. Not only does the light from the TV suppress melatonin, but many programs are stimulating rather than relaxing. Try listening to music or audio books.

Do not read with backlit devices. Backlit tablets are more disruptive than e-readers that don't have their own light source.

When it's time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. Use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try a sleep mask. Also, consider covering electronics that emit light.

Keep the lights low if you get up during the night. If you need some light to get around safely, try installing a dim night light in the hall or bathroom, or use a small flashlight. This will make it easier for you to get back to sleep.

Tip 3: Exercise during the day

Exercise speeds up your metabolism, raises your body temperature, and stimulates hormones like cortisol. This is not a problem if you exercise in the morning or afternoon, but too close to bed and it can interfere with sleep.

Try to complete moderate to vigorous workouts at least three hours before bed. If you're still having trouble sleeping, move your workouts even earlier. Low-intensity relaxation exercises, such as yoga or gentle stretching in the evening, can help promote sleep.

Tip 4: Be smart about what you eat and drink

Focus on a heart-healthy diet. It's your general eating patterns, not specific foods, that can make the biggest difference to your sleep quality, as well as your overall health. Eating a Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats—and limited amounts of red meat—may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Cut back on sugary foods and refined carbohydrates. Eating a lot of sugar and refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice, and pasta during the day can keep you awake at night and pull you out of the deep, restorative stages of sleep.

Limit caffeine and nicotine. You might be surprised to learn that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after consuming it! Likewise, smoking is another stimulant that can disrupt your sleep, especially if you smoke close to bedtime.

Avoid large meals in the evening. Try to prepare dinner earlier in the evening and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of going to bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach upset and heartburn.

Avoid alcohol before bed. While your drink may help you relax, it disrupts your sleep cycle once you're out.

Avoid drinking too much fluids in the evening. Drinking a lot of fluids can lead to frequent trips to the bathroom during the night.

Tip 5: Relax and… clear your head

Help yourself by setting aside specific times during the day to check your phone and social media and, as much as possible, try to focus on one task at a time. You will be better able to calm your mind at bedtime.

Tip 6: Improve your sleeping environment

Keep the noise down.

Keep your room cool.

Make sure your bed is comfortable.

Keep your bed for sleep and sex.

Tip 7: Learn ways to get back to sleep

Stay… out of your head. To stay… out of your head, focus on the feelings in your body or do breathing exercises. Take a breath and then slowly exhale while saying or thinking the word, "Aaaah." Take another breath and repeat.

Aim for relaxation, not sleep.

Do a quiet, non-stimulating activity.

Put off worrying and brainstorming.

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