Getting a good night’s sleep plays a pivotal role in your mental and physical health, as well as your overall quality of life. If you’ve been sleepless in Seattle — or anywhere else for that matter — here are seven easy steps to get a deeper night’s sleep on a regular basis.
Stick to a schedule
Per the National Sleep Foundation, one of the top ways to improve sleep quality is to adhere to a sleep schedule. This helps reinforce your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. You don’t need to pencil in “time to sleep” on your planner, but it is a good idea to go to bed and wake up at the same times — both on weekdays and weekends. If you have to alter your sleep schedule on weekends, the Mayo Clinic recommends limiting the difference in your sleep schedule to no more than one hour.
Engaging in routine physical activity is a good way to sleep better. According to the National Sleep Foundation, exercise helps your body decrease anxiety, arousal and depressive symptoms associated with insomnia. And the post-exercise drop in body temperature is another factor that will make it easier to relax and fall asleep at bedtime.
Wind down before bed
Schedule some time before bed for relaxation. The Mayo Clinic suggests meditating in the evenings. The National Sleep Foundation recommends reading. Some other ideas include taking a relaxing bath, doing some deep-breathing exercises and listening to a podcast or audiobook.
Monitor food and drink
Diet plays a significant role in sleep quality. Avoid heavy meals within a couple hours of bedtime, as The Mayo Clinic advises. Don’t drink alcohol right before bed, since it can disrupt sleep patterns later on in the night. Use caution with caffeine and nicotine as well, as these stimulants can remain in your system many hours after use and interfere with sleep quality.
Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows
Your sleep environment is a key factor in maintaining good sleep hygiene. Quality mattresses have an average lifespan of 9-10 years, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If your bed is older than that and starting to feel less supportive, it might be time to purchase a new one. Good pillows complement a comfortable mattress, helping your neck and spine stay properly aligned during sleep so you’re not sore the next day.
Use light strategically
Bright lighting helps the body feel more awake and low lighting helps the body feel sleepy. The National Sleep Foundation recommends using this to your advantage. Expose yourself to sunlight or a full-spectrum light in the morning and avoiding bright lights in the evening.
Avoid blue light at night
Monitor your use of electronics at night, since the blue wavelengths they emit can make your body think it’s daytime. This also inhibits your body’s melatonin production, which triggers drowsiness at night, as Healthline articulates. Consider installing a blue-light blocking app on your smartphone or wear blue-light blocking glasses a couple of hours before bed.
By implementing these practices, you’re well on your way to enjoying a more regular sleep routine — and reaping the benefits of sharper concentration and a healthier, more energized body.