You can get a better night’s rest if you make some changes to how you spend your day.
“Sleep isn’t something that just happens when you fall into bed. Your body gets primed for it all day,” says Michael Breus, PhD, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.
Try these tips:
1. Tackle To-Dos Earlier
Evenings should be a time to unwind. Don’t try to do a lot of chores before bedtime.
It might sound ambitious, but you’ll sleep more soundly if you get up early to work on your to-do list.
“Your brain is better primed for mental tasks in the morning when sunlight suppresses the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone,” says Tracey Marks, MD, author of Master Your Sleep: Proven Methods Simplified.
2. Power Down Before Bed
To sleep better at night, set an “electronic” curfew. That means no TV, computer, tablet, or phone at least 30 minutes before lights out.
The tiny lights from your clock, TV, DVD player, and smartphone can keep you awake. Cover them up at night and turn your clock away from the bed.
3. Set a Caffeine Curfew
Don’t drink anything with caffeine 6 to 8 hours before bed. That includes, tea, soda, and energy drinks.
Overall, don’t have more than four 8-ounce cups of coffee a day.
4. Fit In Fitness
You’ll fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly if you get exercise during the day.
For most people, working out any time, even near bedtime, is better than not getting any physical activity at all. But if you have insomnia and your doctor has told you not to exercise at night, follow those instructions.
5. Restrict Naps
It might seem like a good idea when you feel sleepy after lunch, but a daytime siesta can make it hard to get quality shut-eye at night. If you must catch up on your ZZZs, take a nap before 4 p.m. and don’t snooze for more than 30 minutes.
6. Create a Bedtime Ritual
“Bedtime routines are just as important for adults as they are for children,” Breus says.
Your body needs at least 30 minutes to relax and prepare for sleep. The same things that help children unwind, such as a warm bath, soft lighting, and reading, also work wonders for adults.
Michael Breus, PhD, author, Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, Dutton, 2006.
Tracey Marks, MD, author, Master Your Sleep: Proven Methods Simplified, Bascom Hill Publishing Group, 2011.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “Sleep and Caffeine,” “Exercise Routine to Improve Your Sleep.”
Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute: “Light from Self-Luminous Tablet Computers Can Affect Evening Melatonin, Delaying Sleep.”
National Sleep Foundation: “How much sleep do we really need?”
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