- Sleep in total darkness. Do not use a night light. Cover all little glowing lights in your room, like the one on my fan! You can use black electrical tape to cover up these annoying little lights. For windows that allow street lights to enter in, either use blackout curtains or an eye mask. Both will get the job done.
- Use white noise or pink noise. I use a fan and an air purifier to create the best sleep environment!
- No screen time within an hour before bedtime. Try reading instead of television for at least an hour before bedtime. It's much more calming anyways.
- Avoid using alarm clocks. I have never used an alarm clock, even when I was in the USAF I woke up before reveille each morning. This does take practice, but it helps if you follow the next rule:
- As much as possible, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Doing so will help to train your body rhythms, increase melatonin production, and boost your immune system.
- Keep the room the right temperature, cooler is better.
- Sleep alone (banish pets, kids, and *gasp* maybe even your spouse). I know, I know you think I'm crazy. I too have spent years sharing a bedroom with my husband, kids, and pets. However, studies show that for some people (especially those with a spouse who snores) sleeping separately can significantly improve sleep quality.
- Avoid drinking caffeine after 1 p.m. and banish all liquids a couple hours before bedtime.
- Contrary to popular belief, it's PROTEIN, not carbohydrates that will help you sleep better at night. That is because protein boosts an amino acid called L-Tryptophan (the same substance that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving Dinner) which in turn creates serotonin and melatonin. Even better if you combine the protein with a small piece of fruit which helps the tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier.
- Skip the late night glass of wine. Yes, it does make you sleepy at first, but it will disrupt your sleep later, which keeps you from getting the good REM (Rapid Eye Movement, or Deep Sleep) stages.
- Do what I call a “brain drain” right before bed. I like to keep a legal pad beside my bed so I can write down my “worries” or things I need to get done tomorrow. Any thought that pops into my head I just jot it down, that way I am not staying up all night trying not to forget it! Believe me, it helps.
- Exercise, but not right before bed. I am not a night owl anyway, so I have actually experimented with ways to help me stay up when I had an event I needed to attend. One of the best ways I have found to stave off that sleepy feeling is by exercising late in the day!
- If you must use a supplement, it's best to avoid taking melatonin long term, contrary to what many vitamin companies would have you think! However, it is ok to take it to help you temporarily. Some other great ideas are Magnesium, Sleepytime Tea (my favorite flavor is Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Vanilla), and Calms Forte.
- My daughters and I all enjoy analyzing our sleep patterns with the “Sleep Cycle” app. You simply put your phone in Airplane Mode and start the app. The phone is then placed on the top of your bed while you sleep. When you wake in the morning the app will ask if your night was good, so-so, or bad. Then if you like, it will take your heart rate and show you how efficient your sleep was that night. After using the app for a week or so, you can see patterns. I like to average 88-93% sleep efficiency. Although one night of 100% has happened to me ONCE…
- If possible, use organic sheets, blankets, and pillows to avoid toxic overload. Like children's pajamas, most are treated with flame retardants and many other chemicals.
- Sleeping on a quality mattress will do wonders for your sleep. We use The Bed Boss mattresses, a perfect combination of comfort, quality, and affordability!
Sleep like your life depends on it because it does!
How do you get a better night of sleep? Share your ideas in the comments below!
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