We all need to sleep. If you've ever tried to stay up through the night before an important day, you won't need any studies to tell you that is the truth. Of course, those studies exist as well. A lack of sleep leads to health problems, weight gains, increased stress levels, and more.
Unfortunately, most of us don't seem to take those potential problems too seriously. Polls consistently find that almost half the U.S. population sleeps less on an average night than the recommended seven to nine hours. You might be able to function on five hours of sleep, but that doesn't mean you'll operate at your best the next morning.
But we're not writing this post to scare you. Instead, we want to help you reverse that trend. Follow just a few of these 9 simple steps, and you can improve your sleep as early as tonight.
1) Set a Sleep Schedule
Establishing a routine before night time helps you calm down, and set the expectations for a restful night sleep. When possible, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every night, even on weekends. Establish a routine that includes brushing your teeth and calming down in a way that suits you. Go through your routine at least 30 minutes before you expect to fall asleep to get your body in the mood for rest.
2) Avoid Heavy or Energy-Rich Foods
You've probably heard that caffeine is not a great choice anytime after dinner if you expect to get a good sleep. The same is true for heavy and energy-rich foods, as well. Look to avoid sugars as nighttime snacks, and try to eat that pizza or pasta dinner at lunch rather than dinner. Light fare helps your body rest at the same time your mind does.
3) Find the Perfect Temperature
Keeping your hands and feet warm has a tangible effect on how well you sleep. At the same time, you don't want your bedroom to get too warm. Research suggests an ideal temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on what you're comfortable with. If that gets your toes a bit too cold, don't be afraid to wear those socks to regulate your temperature.
4) Exercise - But Not Before Night Time
In addition to its variety of other benefits, daily exercise is also a healthy way to exhaust your body enough that it's ready for sleep when you are. However, you need to make sure that you don't try to squeeze in your workout right before bedtime. Schedule at least three hours of buffer time between your workout and scheduled sleep time to make sure that your body is not too amped up to actually calm down when you need it to.
5) Reserve the Bed for Sleep
Yes, the bed is a great time to read a good book or watch that Netflix show when you have a free minute. You might even want to use it to do your makeup or get some work day. Here's a tip: don't. Instead, train your body and mind to believe that the only thing it should be used for is sleep. That way, when you do lay down, actually escaping to dreamland will be a lot easier.
6) Turn Off Those Electronics
Too many of us sleep with the television on during the night. But that flicker naturally disrupts your sleep. Even when you don't notice it, you sleep less deep and more restless. Simply turning it off instantly solves the problem. If you do need some background noise, consider investing in a white noise machine instead.
7) ... Yes, Your Phone As Well
Yep, your phone should go off when you do as well. The light it emits actually stimulates your brain to the degree that you cannot easily calm it down. The effect on your mind is similar to the effect of exercise on your body. If you absolutely do need to check those messages or FaceTime your significant other, use your phone in night mode to minimize the harmful light.
8) Try the Early Schedule
The early bird not only gets the worm, it also has some better sleep. It might seem difficult to get up early at first, especially if you're used to sleeping in. However, it has some immense benefits for your regular schedule. In addition to helping you make the most of your day, your body will also have a fuller day to get tired naturally and be ready for bed at a reasonable hour in the evening.
9) Don't Try too Hard
Finally, an important tip: don't try too hard to force yourself to sleep. If you do, you could actually have the opposite effect. Raising your stress levels will result in wakefulness that only harms your well-being. Only go to bed when you are truly tired. If you cannot fall asleep after about 15 to 20 minutes, don't keep trying or distract yourself in your bed. Instead, get up, walk to a different room, do something calming (such as reading a book), and try again after a short period of time.
Finding a Better Sleep Strategy to Improve Your Life
Even we have to admit: it's odd to think of sleep as a strategy. Most of us fall into bed at night, wake up to the alarm the next morning, and simply hope that the time in-between was enough to keep us healthy. Still, it pays to take the issue a bit more seriously.
That's especially true considering just how easy it is to improve your sleep. Establishing a routine, avoiding energy-rich foods and drinks, and turning off that smartphone may be all you need to hit Snoozeville in a way that keeps you healthy.
And of course, you have to make sure that you actually sleep on the right surface. Without a good mattress, you will not be able to get comfortable or get that restful sleep you need so much. And the good news is that a great mattress can actually be affordable. Browse our online mattress selection to find the product you need to stay healthy, happy, and well-rested.