If you frequently have trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. An estimated 50 to 70 million American adults have a sleep or wakefulness disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it’s likely that countless others experience many sleepless nights that go unreported. Getting sufficient sleep is essential for mental and physical health, but there are a number of fairly simple changes you can make to create a soothing, peaceful environment that can help promote a solid night’s rest.
Transform Your Bedroom Environment
You don’t have to do a complete overhaul to your bedroom decor, but to sleep better, it’s important to have a peaceful atmosphere to retreat to. Your sleeping environment should be cool, quiet, and dark. Even the tiny light emitted from a laptop, DVD player, or digital clock can be enough to keep you awake. Keep electronics powered off, or at least cover the readout so that the room is pitch-black when it’s bedtime. If it’s impossible to block out all light, consider wearing an eye mask, and if loud noises tend to intrude your sleep, earplugs can be a great help.
A cluttered bedroom is not conducive to calm. Try to keep your room clean and well-organized, and get rid of any objects that you don’t need or use. You might also consider adding scents that promote sleep and well-being, such as lavender. Bringing fresh flowers and plants in regularly can help add new, positive energy and remove toxins from the air. It should go without saying that your mattress, bedding, and pillow are important factors in a good night’s sleep. Be sure to choose items that are the most comfortable to you, as this is generally subjective.
Best Foods and Drinks For Sleep
What you eat and drink can impact sleep either negatively or positively. It's obvious that drinking coffee before bed is not a good idea, but even less obvious sources of caffeine such as soda, tea, chocolate, and even decaf coffee can keep you awake. Ideally, you should eliminate all caffeine from your diet four to six hours before going to bed.
Certain foods and beverages are also thought to help improve sleep. Drinking warm milk at bedtime can help. It contains tryptophan, the same substance in turkey that is known to promote sleep. Snack on foods that promote sleep like nuts and seeds, eggs, honey, and cheese which also contain tryptophan. Drinking a cup of herbal tea, like chamomile tea just before hitting the sack may also aid in improving sleep as researchers have found that it offers a mild sedative effect.
Maintain a Regular Sleep Routine
Getting up and going to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends or other days off, is important for reinforcing your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Creating a regular routine just before bedtime, such as taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, or meditating, can help you sleep better by easing the transition between being alert and becoming drowsy.
People who get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day, according to a study published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity. Keep in mind that exercising too close to bedtime can keep you awake as it tends to flood the body with more energy, rather than deplete it. If this happens to you, try to schedule your workout routine earlier in the day.