16 Tricks for Sleeping Like a Baby: How to Sleep Better
It’s been days since you’ve had a good night’s sleep. You get in bed, and your mind wanders. You spend hours tossing and turning with no luck….Does this sound familiar? Whether you have insomnia or you’ve just had a stressful few weeks, sleeping is vital to our mental and physical well-being. If you’re tired of being tired, keep reading. We’ll give you some tips for how to sleep better and get your life back on track. Need help waking up in the morning, check out how to become a morning person.
You already know that the body just doesn’t function as well when you haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep, which varies from person to person, but is usually about 7-8 hours for an adult. Sleeping not only gives our bodies a chance to rest, but it is also when our brains recharge and integrate all of the new information that we’ve learned throughout the day. You may think that pulling that all-nighter before a big test is what you need, but without the chance to let your brain really soak it all in, you’re probably not remembering as much as you could be.
Luckily, there are some pretty easy steps you can follow to fall asleep and stay asleep. Take it little by little, and with some luck, you’ll be sleeping in no time! If you need help with how to sleep better, keep reading!
How to Sleep Better: 16 Tips to Get Some Shut-eye
1. Stop using your phone as an alarm clock
Our phones are usually the last thing that we see before we go to sleep. We spend so much time on our phones, tablets, computers, watching TV, etc. that we don’t let our brains actually relax. They are constantly being stimulated, which means that it has to disconnect and relax when you’re already trying to fall asleep.
There have been studies explaining the negative affects of spending too much time on your phones, especially close to bedtime. The blue light that our iDevices emit actually affects our brains, making it think that it’s still daytime, and therefor not signaling to get ready for sleeping. This is known as technological insomnia, and can affect our ability to sleep.
So, if you want to know how to sleep better, put your phone away 30 minutes before bed. Put it on the other side of the room to resist temptation, and get a real alarm clock to wake-up to in the morning.
2. Deep breaths
Taking long, deep breaths tells our bodies that it’s time to relax. It may take some practice to do this well, but learning to fill up your lungs and breathe properly will not only help you relax and fall asleep, but can also help you when overcoming panic and anxiety attacks.
Try practicing your breathing when you’re watching TV or laying in bed. Set aside 5 minutes to focus on your breathing and relax. Knowing how to do it will come in handy when you’re in a situation where you need to relax.
3. Make a bedtime routine
Our bodies love routines. Our brains don’t have to work as hard, and the body recognizes certain ques that signal that it’s time to do something.
Set aside the last hour before you go to sleep to have the same routine. Maybe you want to clean the kitchen, put on your PJs, read a book, take a warm bath, and then get in bed. Your routine can include whatever you want it to (as long as it’s not overly stimulating), just try to repeat it as closely as you can every night. Weekends tend to be tricky for keeping this routine, but do the bets you can. The better your routine, the easier you’ll be able to sleep!
4. How to sleep better: Make your room the perfect sleeping palace
Robert Oexman, the director of Sleep to Live Institute, suggests keeping your room between 18 and 20°C (65-68°F) degrees. Obviously, everyone will be different and something that is comfortable for one person may be too warm/cold for another, but find a temperature that is comfortable with a light blanket.
Do your best to block out external light or noise. If you live on a busy street, try getting some wax ear-plugs. They’ll stay in your ears and can do wonders. Look into getting blackout shades or an eye-mask to put on at night to keep out any light that might be coming in.
Get a comfortable bed and invest in soft sheets! Your bed should be your getaway, your place to relax and sleep.
6. Get out of bed
If you’ve been laying in bed with no luck for more than 30 minutes, get up and do something else. Laying down and thinking about how much you want to sleep won’t help you. Get up and read a book, have some warm tea, and relax. If you’re stressed about something in particular, get some of it out of the way.
Maybe you’re worried about your paper that’s due and it’s keeping you up at night. Start an outline or get a few lines in. Even doing a little bit might take some of the weight off and help you sleep.
7. Put the daytime problems aside
This is a hard one, but try to put all of the problems you’re facing at work, at home, at school, with the kids, etc. at the bedroom door. Spending hours angsting over that big project you have to present in a few days won’t do you any good.
Take some of those deep breathes that we talked about before and try to relax. Clear your mind of the stuff going on and focus on your breath.
8. Don’t look at the time!
We’ve all made ourselves miserable by looking at the time and counting how many hours we have left to sleep. It’s 2 and I have to wake up at 6, so I have…. Don’t do it! It’s hard to resist, but it’ll just make you antsy and stressed about falling asleep, which will not help you relax.
9. Think about a happy memory
Sometimes you may be struggling to sleep because you’re stressed our or thinking about all the things that you did “wrong” that day (read more about living with generalized anxiety disorder). If this is happening to you, think about a time when you were happy. Did your kid do something funny the other day? Did you recently have a great vacation? Focus on some good memories, it’ll help you sleep better.
If you don’t give your body a chance to tire itself out during the day, you can’t expect it to be tired when you’re ready to sleep. Try to spend 30 active minutes a day. It’s easier to do than you think… Park further away, get off the bus a few stops early, walk up and down the stairs rather than taking the elevator. All of it adds up!
Be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime! If possible give yourself at least 3 hours between working out and going to sleep. Your body needs time to get rid of the energy and endorphins that you worked up while exercising.
11. Buy yourself a good pillow
A medium firm pillow that supports your head and neck will help you rest better. Everyone has their preferred pillow, but try one that is supportive and soft. You don’t want your head to be at an angle, but you want it off of the bed a little bit. Play around and see which works best for you.
12. How to sleep better: Don’t shower right before bed
Most people think that showers are relaxing and help calm you down, and this may be true for some people if they make it part of the bedtime routine, but there is a reason why some people shower in the morning to wake up!
The water can energize you, rather than calm you down. If you do shower at night, try to do it at least 90 minutes before you get in bed. You’ll still be cozy and warm from the water, but you won’t be as alert.
13. Have a light dinner
In the US, we have the custom of having a big dinner, which isn’t really great for our bodies. Digestion is a difficult process for our bodies, and if we have a big, heavy dinner before we sleep, our bodies have to work hard to process the food, which can be uncomfortable and keep us up.
Stick to light food around bedtime, like salads, soups, etc.
14. Go to a doctor
If after trying these sleeping tips you’re still having trouble sleeping, see a specialist. You might need some extra help to get to sleep.
Molly is a writer specialized in health and psychology. She is passionate about neuroscience and how the brain works, and is constantly looking for new content from interesting sources. Molly is happy to give or take advice, and is always working to educate and inspire.
This post is also available in: Spanish