Sleep Tips: 10 Steps To Sleep Better
Not getting enough sleep can make anyone at any age irritable, forgetful, and of course very tired. Does your aging parent have trouble sleeping? Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night? Changes in our sleeping patterns are completely normal as we age. However, waking up tired every day, or experiencing symptoms of insomnia is not normal (1). In this blog, we are discussing 10 sleeping tips to help you sleep better and hopefully help you wake up feeling restful and energized in the morning.
1. Set a regular bedtime routine.
Everybody usually has a set morning routine that looks something like brush teeth, wash face, make breakfast, drink coffee. But do you have a bedtime routine set in place? It is important to have a bedtime routine because this will help get your body ready to relax, naturally make you sleepier and ready for a restful night (2). Your bedtime routine should be personalized for you. Make it a habit to do relaxing activities that help you unwind and clear your mind from a busy day. A great first step in your routine is shutting off or dimming the lights.
2. Turn off lights, electronic devices, and phones before bedtime.
An hour or two before getting into bed, turn off all screens and lights to naturally produce melatonin in the brain (3). Melatonin lets our bodies know it is time for sleep. You might notice that when you are on your tablet or phone, your body and mind stay wide awake and you can keep scrolling for hours at a time. This is due to the screen’s blue light signaling our brain to stay awake thus, not letting us get sleepy.
3. Make your bedroom your sleep zone.
Make sure to only get into bed for sleep. Your bedroom should not be the same place you watch TV or browse social media on the bed (4). This means no devices in bed or watching TV in bed. If you find yourself tossing and turning for more than 5 minutes, you should get up and read or do another calming activity until you are ready for sleep. Try to limit activities in your bedroom and only get into bed at nighttime just for sleep.
4. Don’t drink alcohol or fluids close to bedtime.
Have you ever experienced your eyes getting heavy and you can feel yourself about to fall asleep but then notice you need to go to the bathroom? Avoid drinking alcohol or any fluids (including coffee) before or close to your bedtime. Trips to the bathroom disrupt your sleep and in order to feel well-rested in the morning, it is important to have 100% uninterrupted sleep.
5. Listen to relaxing music, guided meditation, or sleep sounds.
Lullabies are not just for babies. In fact, adults of all ages can benefit from listening to music to fall asleep. According to a study, adults who listened to 45 minutes of music before sleeping reported better quality sleep beginning on the first night. Consider listening to guided meditations- they do a great job at helping us focus on our breathing and can help quiet the mind reducing sleep troubles. Similar to music, sleep sounds such as rain, ocean waves, or white noise, can be sleep-inducing to some people. Try out these options to see what works best for you.
6. Read before bedtime.
Ever noticed yourself getting sleepy while reading in bed or in your couch? This is because the movements of our eyes moving back and forth to read the pages make our eyes tired and heavy. When you notice yourself tossing and turning in bed and your mind racing, try getting up from bed and pick up a book. Reading has been known to help clear your mind from the day’s stresses and challenges. It is important to note that you should not read from your tablet. The blue light that screens give off slows down and/or stops the production of melatonin. Once you feel yourself getting sleepy, get into bed.
7. Exercise during the day.
Moderate-to-vigorous exercise can help increase sleep quality by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and decrease the amount of time they lie awake in bed during the night (5). Examples of moderate exercises include: walking fast, cleaning windows or vacuuming, and bicycling lightly. Vigorous exercises include hiking, jogging, shoveling, or bicycling fast. Try doing one of these exercises for at least 30 minutes a day for better quality sleep.
8. Eat less sugary foods during the day.
Food can also affect the way we sleep. Studies have shown that eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbs such as white bread, white rice, pasta, and fries can cause a sleepless night and can actually pull you out of the deep, restorative stages of sleep (1). Try to eat balanced, healthy meals full of vegetables and fruits to prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.
9. Spend more time in the sun.
Get more sun! Our bodies know the difference between night and day from the sunlight. Bright sunlight also helps regulate melatonin and your sleep-wake cycles (1). If warm enough, you can drink your coffee in the morning outside, walk your dog in the morning versus the nighttime, or eat breakfast by a sunny window.
10. Manage your stress.
This is easier said than done. There is no specific cure to help you de-stress. Everybody is different and what relaxes you may not help others. There are many activities you can do to calm your stress during the day from meditation breaks to coloring in the evening or taking a warm bath before bed, it is up to you to find out what helps your body and mind. Managing your stress during the day can help tremendously with falling asleep faster at night. Your bed should not be the place to think about the day’s challenges, but rather the place where you can let go of everything that is bothering you and recharge for the next day.
This blog is made for educational purposes only as well as general information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your physician/doctor. Always consult your physician for specific medical advice.