From anxiety to having too much caffeine later in the evening, there are many factors that might be impacting your ability to get good sleep at night. But getting quality sleep at night is a key component of an overall health and wellness routine, and not getting enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep can impact everything from your mental clarity during the day to your immunity.
If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, one of the most important things you can do is identify the cause and take steps to eliminate whatever factors are hindering your sleep. However, if you can’t pinpoint a specific cause, there are many tips and strategies you can use to help you fall asleep, stay asleep through the night, and get better quality sleep. To help you discover tricks and techniques for getting better sleep, we reached out to a panel of healthcare professionals and wellness enthusiasts and asked them to answer this question:
“What’s your number one tip for getting good sleep at night?”
Meet Our Panel of Healthcare Professionals & Wellness Enthusiasts:
|· Ray Sadoun||· Dr. Zachary Okhah||· Sameer Jafri|
Read on to learn what our panel had to say about their top tips for getting a quality night’s sleep.
NOTE: The information and opinions expressed below represent the opinions of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Incredible Edibles.
Ray Sadoun is a London-based mental health and addiction recovery specialist. He’s been in the industry for more than fifteen years and is currently working for OK Rehab, a UK-based addiction and mental health treatment provider.
“My top tip for getting a good night’s sleep is to get busy during the day…”
When my clients come to me with sleep problems, the first question I ask is, ‘What do you do during the day?’ If you are working in an office all day, you need to get active in the evening if you want to feel tired enough to sleep.
In terms of the specifics of a busy day, I have several recommendations. The first is exercise. Some of my clients roll their eyes when I recommend exercise for better mental health and better sleep quality, but you cannot deny that exercise works wonders for our bodies. When you work out, you release endorphins that boost your mood, which means you’re less likely to be feeling anxious or depressed at night. Exercise also tires you out massively, so you are less able to procrastinate going to bed as your body will be begging you to close your eyes.
Secondly, try to socialize during the day. If you work full time, it will be quite easy to make sure you have some stimulating conversations throughout the day. However, if you work from home or are a stay at home parent, you need to take action to ensure you are socializing effectively. Try to meet up with friends when you can, or even just call a friend for a quick catch up. Not only does socializing keep you busy, but it also means you are more likely to dwell on the positive experience at night rather than overthinking past events or worrying about the future.
Finally, get productive in terms of work. If you complete a full day of work, it will be easier to go to bed early as you won’t feel pressured to continue working. Many people lie awake worrying about the next day’s to-do list, but if you have had a productive day, you can sleep soundly knowing that the important tasks have been completed.
Natalie Jurado is the founder of Rooted In, a line of magnesium infused moisturizers that actively calm and relax your mood. She is a sought after thought leader, educator and speaker and has worked at the forefront of the wellness industry for over 8 years. She’s considered an expert in all things magnesium, and her mission is to spread awareness of this powerful mineral to all who struggle to live their most vibrant lives.
“Countless people struggle to get a decent night’s sleep and resort to…”
Taking prescriptions and over the counter drugs to finally get the rest they need. What most people don’t know is that magnesium deficiency is one of the main causes of sleep disturbances, affecting the amount and quality of sleep we get at night.
Our bodies need magnesium to function properly, but despite this, up to 70% of people don’t get the minimum amount needed every day and wind up severely deficient, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Magnesium plays a key role in sleep: it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for making you calm and relaxed. It also binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, a neurotransmitter responsible for quieting nerve activity and helping the brain calm down in preparation for sleep. Not surprisingly, it’s the same neurotransmitter used by sleep drugs, such as Ambien.
Foods that are rich in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, leafy greens, and almonds. Combining these foods in a smoothie provides an excellent source of magnesium. Be aware though that chocolate does contain caffeine, so use it sparingly in the evening.
In addition, using magnesium topically—in the form of creams and sprays—is an effective and natural way to boost your magnesium levels at bedtime, leading to more restful sleep. Topical magnesium, the kind found in sleep creams like Rest by Rooted In, is preferred over oral supplements because it works within minutes and doesn’t cause digestive upset, so you’re able to sleep peacefully without interruption.
Rachel Jones is in charge of PR for Hope Health Supply, a leading provider of PPE in America. She is an expert in business, marketing, public relations and much more in America.
“There are many tricks that work when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep…”
One thing that has done wonders for many people I know is limiting caffeine at night. A stimulant early in the morning can help you kick off the day and energize you. However, a cup of coffee after dinner or before bed may keep you awake. Instead, drinking tea or water is the way to go.
Dr. Anthony Puopolo is the Chief Medical Officer of the telemedicine company Rex MD and a board-certified physician with deep experience in wellness through integrative care. He has served in healthcare leadership roles across the globe, including as Regional Medical Director for telemedicine provider SwiftMD; as Army Major, Chief Psychiatrist, and Officer-in-Charge at the U.S. Army’s Camp Casey Troop Medical Clinic in South Korea; and at 121 General Hospital, South Korea as Chief of Inpatient Psychiatric Ward and Medical Director of its alcohol treatment center. He is a member of the American Board of Family Medicine and the Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing International Association (EMDRIA).
“Getting a good night’s sleep is an important part of your overall health…”
My number one tip is to pay attention to what you eat and drink. Don’t go to bed hungry or overly full. Stomach discomfort can keep you awake. Also, try not to consume nicotine, alcohol, or caffeine within a few hours of going to sleep as the effects can take hours to wear off.
Despite holding a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from university of Arizona in Tucson, Harland never imagined that one day he would be the founder of the website Fast Food Menu Prices, dedicated to fast food menu prices. In his leisure time, he likes to crack jokes, take snapshots of his dog Hyde, and assist individuals in promoting healthy eating habits through scientific and food-based strategies.
“Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night, but if you often have trouble sleeping…”
Getting in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is one of the most important strategies for sleeping better. If you keep a regular sleep-wake schedule, you’ll feel much more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times, even if you only alter your sleep schedule by an hour or two. Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities, and delegating tasks.
Michael Fischer is an optimistic and driven individual paired with a keen business sense and a strong desire to help others. He is passionate about business, trading, traveling, reading, the outdoors, and healthy living by operating EliteHRT. He lives each day never wavering from his core values and principles and takes pride in being a lifelong learner, continually striving to become a better person today than he was yesterday. However, his greatest joy in this life is spending time with his beautiful wife and children.
“Having a nightly routine can help you get in the mindset perfect for …”
Sleeping each night. Be sure to also go to bed and wake up at the same time as well, so your brain knows when to fall asleep and wake up well rested. Some things to add to a nightly routine include turning off your phone and other screens an hour before bed, reading a book, turning on an oil diffuser, playing calming music, and other calming activities to get your body and mind in the mindset of sleep.
Kimberly Dwyer, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in suburban Denver, Colorado, who also practices telehealth throughout the state.
“My top tip to get good sleep at night is to be mindful of exposure to information that increases arousal close to bedtime…”
Our goal is to associate bedtime and everything we see in our bedroom with sleep and relaxation. Scrolling through social media or watching the news in bed right before turning off the lights may increase our arousal, trigger anxiety, and otherwise interfere with the brain’s ability to turn off and go to sleep. This is especially important right now when our media outlets are filled with potentially frightening information.
Carrie Lam, MD, DABFM, ABAARM, FAAMFM graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Fine Arts from Pacific Union College, California, and earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from Loma Linda University, California. She is board certified in family medicine and anti-aging and regenerative medicine and operates at Dr. Lam Coaching.
“According to estimates, a considerable proportion of the American population has known sleep problems…”
Conventional medicine can only provide temporary relief. Here are some effective solutions for sleep problems that you can use to improve the quality of your sleep.
Minimizing stress is one of the best sleep problem solutions. The anti-stress hormone cortisol helps your body deal with stress. When you wake up in the morning, cortisol levels are high and gradually decrease throughout the day, dropping just before bedtime to initiate sleep. However, constant stress can lead to cortisol imbalance, which could mean the levels of this hormone are not low enough at bedtime leading to sleep problems. Stress can keep you awake in numerous ways. Racing thoughts, an unpleasant environment, and electronic gadgets place stress on your body. But minimizing stress can help prevent cortisol imbalance and promote sound sleep. To reduce stress, consider setting aside some time to relax at least 30 minutes before bedtime. During this time, stay away from electronic devices, read your favorite book, or write down your schedule for the next day.
Maintain a Consistent Sleep Routine
Fixing a particular time to go to sleep at night is a vital part of maintaining a regular sleep cycle. It also helps prepare your body to fall asleep. When your sleep hormone levels are balanced, you’re less likely to have sleep problems. Melatonin levels rise approximately two hours before you go to sleep, whereas cortisol levels go down. One proven natural sleep problem solution is to regulate your sleep schedule. This simply means going to bed and waking up at a set time every day, which ensures a healthy balance of sleep hormones (melatonin, cortisol, and orexin) in your body.
Creating a Good Sleep Environment
Another of the proven sleep problem solutions is creating a good sleep environment, which basically prepares your body to fall asleep. The pineal gland of your brain produces the sleep hormone melatonin and is considered your body’s natural pacemaker. Studies have shown that blue light (from TVs, laptops, and cell phones) suppress melatonin production, whereas red light is less likely to suppress melatonin. So, before you go to sleep, stay away from artificial lights and electronic devices since they interfere with hormone production. When you’re getting ready for bed, consider keeping your bedroom dark by switching off any artificial lights, maintain an ideal room temperature (slightly cooler is better), make sure your bed is comfortable, and play some soothing music.
What you eat has a direct effect on your overall quality of sleep. Diet plays a significant role in the production of neurotransmitters and hormones, which are key to helping you feel relaxed and initiating sleep. Avoiding sugar and carbohydrates before going to bed is best. Also, meal timing is another factor that impacts sleep. Make sure you don’t hit the sack feeling hungry since low blood sugar levels can wake you up in the middle of the night. Consider eating 2–4 hours before bedtime. In addition, certain foods have sleep-promoting properties. Foods rich in tryptophan, complex carbohydrates, magnesium, and B vitamins all help promote better sleep. Therefore, adding some of these components to your diet can serve as effective sleep problem solutions. Limit or avoid caffeine, sugar, alcohol, nicotine, and processed fats as they contribute to sleep problems. The Adrenal Fatigue Diet is packed with nutrition and can help promote sound sleep and boost your energy levels.
Adrenal breathing exercises are an effective tool for improving sleep quality. Breathing exercises help reduce stress, ease anxiety, boost mood, provide relief from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lowers blood pressure levels.
Aromatic compounds in essential oils have soothing and therapeutic properties which help relax the body and mind. Both chamomile and lavender essential oils offer relaxing and sleep-promoting properties. Therefore, they are often used in aromatic candles and aromatherapy. Inhaling chamomile vapors can help ease stress and anxiety. Try diffusing lavender oil in your bedroom or gently massage your neck with the oil. Or you could also consider taking a warm water bath infused with essential oils around 30 minutes before bed.
Making certain changes in your lifestyle can go a long way in enhancing your quality of sleep. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. Before going to bed, don’t do any strenuous exercise that increases your heart rate or cortisol levels. This can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Having a glass of raw milk or a handful of soaked almonds before bedtime can ensure a restorative sleep.
Nancy is a veteran of the scientific, nonprofit and startup business world. As the CEO of Winona and other medical organizations, Nancy effectively partners with healthcare providers, scientists and industry stakeholders to improve healthcare for all.
“A balanced diet actually plays a huge role in the quality of sleep you get…”
If you eat a lot of processed foods, sugars, and alcohol, studies show your sleep quality goes down, while lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and healthy starches can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. A balanced diet can help keep you on track as well when you happen to not get enough sleep, as it’s easier to crave sugar and cause a crash later.
Dr. Zach recently joined the plastic surgery community in Miami after completing a rigorous Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery residency at Brown University under the tutelage of world-renowned aesthetic surgeons Dr. Richard Zienowicz, Dr. Patrick Sullivan, and Dr. Karl Breuing. He has had the wonderful opportunity to spend six months with Dr. Mendieta, mastering techniques in body contouring and perfecting his approach to the Athletic BBL before venturing to start PH-1 Miami, a practice with a focus on innovating minimally-invasive surgical solutions to lipodystrophy and age-related changes of the body.
“Chronic sleep problems may result from what you’re drinking…”
While coffee may be a great way to perk yourself up in the day, you need to make sure you get restorative sleep at night. Too much caffeine intake throughout your day can increase the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep at night, resulting in chronic sleep problems. And in the evening, many people enjoy a beer or a glass of wine to help unwind. Alcohol acts as a depressant to the central nervous system. This sedative effect causes the brain to slow down and relax. However, when too much alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, it takes longer for the enzymes in the liver to metabolize it, causing the excess alcohol to circulate through the body longer. The result of this prolonged process is unrestful sleep and prolonged tiredness.
So, by ceasing caffeine consumption in the early afternoon and limiting your alcohol intake in the evening, you may help relieve some chronic sleep problems.
Eileen Roth is an organizing expert (Today Show, Oprah), speaker and the author of Organizing For Dummies. As the owner of Everything in its Place, she helps people get better organized in their office and home. Seminars are also available.
“My #1 sleep tip is to keep a spiral bound small (3×5) pad of paper by your night table…”
Write down whatever you are thinking about on a piece of paper. If you don’t, the thoughts keep rolling around in your head as you say, ‘I’ll try to remember that when I wake up.’ You won’t remember it tomorrow, so write it down tonight. You can transfer it tomorrow to a to-do list. Tip: Some drugstores and Amazon sell a light-up pen so you can write in the dark.
Martin Reed is the founder of Insomnia Coach—a company that offers sleep coaching programs for adults with chronic insomnia. Martin is also a certified clinical sleep health educator (CCSH), a certified health education specialist (CHES®), an ACE Certified health coach, and holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education.
“My number one tip for getting good sleep at night would be to only go to bed when you feel sleepy enough for sleep…”
The longer we are awake, the more sleep drive we build. And the more sleep drive we have accumulated when we get into bed, the easier it is to fall asleep and stay asleep!
If we keep blowing air into a balloon, it will eventually burst. Imagine a balloon is what keeps us awake, and we are blowing an extra puff of air into that balloon with every hour of wakefulness. Sooner or later that balloon is going to pop—and when that happens, we will sleep.
Many people who struggle with sleep go to bed too early, or before they are truly sleepy enough for sleep. So, it can be really helpful to set a consistent time to get out of bed in the morning and go to bed at night only when a strong sense of sleepiness is present.
Spencer Beaudreault is a former D1 College Football Athlete. He graduated from the University of South Florida and went on to become a Lifestyle Coach, Personal Trainer, and Cannabis Entrepreneur. Spencer specializes in business development and marketing and developed Hero Brands with the mindset of ‘Plants over Pills.’ He’s overcome multiple ACL surgeries, several herniated discs, anxiety, concussions, depression, and insomnia through cannabis, hemp, and plant-based alternatives.
“Honestly, consuming 6-10mg of CBN at night has been amazing for me getting great REM sleep…”
I take 3-4 of our Honey Chamomile CBN Gummies before bed. Building and fine tuning a healthy and consistent sleep routine is crucial. This has been my routine for the past 6 months, and consistently getting good to great sleep has changed my life and productivity dramatically.
Andrea Paul is the Medical Advisor to Illuminate Labs, Physician entrepreneur, VC, angel investor, board member, startup advisor, healthcare executive, and business development and marketing professional adept at improving the bottom line and enabling the achievement of full business potential by delivering transformational and visionary leadership to health care organizations.
“Wear blue light blocking glasses after dark…”
Blue wavelengths of light block natural melatonin production in the body, and this compound is what regulates sleep patterns. Wearing blue light blocking glasses can regulate melatonin production and lead to a great night of sleep.
The glasses can be purchased for less than $10 on Amazon and are much cheaper than supplementing with melatonin nightly, because they should last for many years with good care. There’s no need for expensive glasses; the basic orange construction glasses that block blue light work fine.
Erin Zadoorian is the CEO and Executive Editor at the Ministry of Hemp, the leading advocate for hemp in the United States.
“As a hemp and CBD advocate, I recommend the use of CBD oil…”
Here are some of the reasons why it is becoming a popular product for sleep:
- CBD can help improve sleep and relieve insomnia. The way this works is by helping stimulate melatonin production by boosting levels of tryptophan in the bloodstream. Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for the body’s circadian rhythm.
- CBD helps with some of insomnia’s underlying problems. Insomnia might just be a symptom of some underlying problems like anxiety, depression, chronic pain, or disease. CBD has been shown to help mitigate anxiety and depression, including the effects of PTSD.
- CBD is much safer than prescription medication. Insomnia is commonly treated with hypnotic medications, which can have grave side effects like addiction, allergic reactions, hallucinations, and abnormal sleep behaviors. CBD offers much of the same relief without the side effects.
Michael Hennessy worked inside the health care machine for years and didn’t like what he saw. Constantly rising prices had no relation to manufacturing costs (which were actually falling). He started Diathrive to provide people with diabetes with the best possible products as convenient and affordable as possible. He is so pleased to be making diabetes management more affordable and accessible for the thousands of people with diabetes they are serving all across the U.S.
“Staying away from caffeine at least 3 hours before bed…”
Caffeine can keep you up all night. Also, caffeine can affect your ability to sleep through the entire night without waking up. Make sure you cut off any source of caffeine well before bed.
Dr. Rehman has authored more than 30 articles with leading publishers such as Elsevier, Royal Society, Nature Publishing, and Springer. His research is focused on enhancing therapeutic outcomes and reducing the side effects of current medications and he can be found at Heath Creeds. Apart from this, he is also an Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Science in Pakistan.
“Don’t use electronics…”
Not using smartphones in the bedroom increases happiness and quality of life. Sleeping without smartphones improves sleep, relationships, focus, and well-being. I implemented a 1 hour before bed no-screens rule. It actually works incredibly well. More than just not looking at the blue light, it forced my brain to slow down. I wasn’t popping between the news and social media, getting that flood of dopamine every time there was something new, keeping me locked in the cycle.
I get ready for bed slowly, read or color or do mild crafts or stretch or spend time with my cats, then meditate a bit. The nights I stick to it I fall asleep faster, get better rest, have fewer anxiety dreams, and generally feel more disciplined the next day. I think for me the key is not having that dopamine fix. I think it leaves me craving more all night, and by the time the morning comes I’m ravenous to get it. If you can’t go without screens full-stop, try restricting your screen activities—no social media, no news, no games. Whatever you can do to reduce dopamine floods, the better you’ll feel.
Sameer Jafri is the President at Avive Solutions, a company revolutionizing Sudden Cardiac Arrest response.
“This may seem weird, but it’s a fact that the temperature of your body as well as your bedroom can profoundly affect the quality of your sleep…”
Increased bedroom and body temperature can decrease the quality of your sleep.
It can be really hard to get good sleep at night when you are surrounded by warm temperatures.
I recommend keeping your bedroom temperature around 70°F (20°C). This is a scientifically proven comfortable temperature for most people.
Trista Best is a Registered Dietitian, Environmental Health Specialist, Adjunct Nutrition Professor, and Consultant with Balance One Supplements. She has worked in Public Health for 10 years.
“Magnesium plays a bigger role in sleep than you may realize…”
Magnesium is a rarely considered mineral that plays many roles in the body, over 600 functions at the cellular level. While it is a small nutrient, a deficiency has significant implications.
Along with fighting depression and lowering blood pressure, magnesium is linked to better sleep in both quality and quantity. Magnesium deficiencies almost always lead to or exacerbate insomnia.
It does this by regulating and activating parasympathetic hormones and neurotransmitters that help the brain to enter a state of relaxation which is better prepared for rest. Magnesium also helps to control the symptoms of some conditions that interrupt sleep, like digestive disorders.
Eating foods that contain natural melatonin right before you are ready to attempt sleep can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Almonds, walnuts, and bananas are prime examples of these easy to snack on foods rich in melatonin.
Paul Marlow is the founder of Never Alone and a mental health advocate.
“My number one tip for getting good sleep at night is to have a journal beside your bed…”
Write in it before you turn the light off. Allowing yourself to get out all of your wins, losses and general thoughts from the day will help calm your brain and help you get deeper sleep with less waking up in the middle of the night.
Lisa Richards is a nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet. She has been featured on Today, US News, Women’s Health magazine, Huffington Post, Healthline, the San Francisco Chronicle, Reader’s Digest, Lifehack, Insider, and Well+Good, among others. Through her website, TheCandidaDiet.com, she explains the benefits of a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet.
“Diet can impact the quality and quantity of sleep you are able to get both positively and negatively…”
For those that would prefer to address their sleep concerns from a holistic perspective, there are a few reliable options to choose from.
The first approach is to choose foods that contain natural melatonin. There are a few foods which contain natural melatonin, the chemical responsible for deepening the quality and quantity of sleep.
Three foods with a significant amount of melatonin are tart cherries, bananas, and oats. Bananas are unique in that they are also rich in L-tryptophan and magnesium. L-tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, which is then converted to serotonin.
Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant that can help the body and mind wind down before going to sleep. Magnesium can also be found in avocados, nuts, and even tofu.
Nicole Johnson is the lead sleep consultant of The Baby Sleep Site® where millions of families go each year to find solutions to their baby sleep problems. Nicole has been helping tired families get a better night’s sleep for over a decade with books, a blog, and personalized sleep consultations.
“To get a good night’s sleep, you should go to bed when you’re tired…”
… but not TOO tired. Our bodies release hormones to fight fatigue and give us a ‘second wind.’ If you wait to go to bed too late, you will have a harder time falling asleep and sleeping restfully. On the other hand, you don’t want to go to bed too early, either, or your body will treat your bedtime as a little nap, and you might be more prone to insomnia in the middle of the night. So, you want to find the ‘just right’ amount of tired. To find that time, take the amount of sleep you need, on average, and your desired wake-up time, and then work backward. For example, if you need to wake around 7 AM every day and you need 7 hours of sleep, you should plan to go to bed around 11:30 PM every night. This gives you a little downtime to fall asleep before midnight and wake up refreshed between 6:45 and 7:00 AM. If you need 8 1/2 hours of sleep, you’d go to bed around 10:00 PM. Ideally, you’d stick to around the same schedule every day so your internal clock knows what to do.
Alex Savy is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and the Founder of SleepingOcean. Helping people to improve their sleep is one of the key goals at SleepingOcean.
“Among all of the methods I’ve tried, sleeping during consistent hours seems to be the most effective tool…”
It’s an old trick that requires time and discipline, but it does work in most cases. Keeping a consistent schedule doesn’t only mean more chances to get the needed hours of rest. It also helps the natural circadian rhythms work like a Swiss clock and stick to a regular cycle. This, in turn, often helps you wake up and fall asleep easier, plus enjoy better sleep quality overall.
Mark Zhang is the CEO & founder of Manta Sleep mask, the only mask designed, constructed, and optimized for deepest-possible sleep in any environment. A leader of the pro-napping movement, Mark educates others on why an afternoon nap is crucial for unlocking one’s full potential and much more.
“For a better night’s sleep, try these tips…”
- Take a Bath 90 Minutes Before Bed
According to Science Daily, biomedical engineers have found that people who take a warm bath about 90 minutes before bedtime are able to fall asleep faster. Our bodies have a natural temperature cycle that correlates with our circadian rhythms—and we like to have a slightly cooler body temperature right before sleeping. Baths help because increasing your body temperature as you bathe actually results in your body cooling down to the perfect sleep temperature after your bath, right as you’re falling asleep. Try sudsing up tonight and see how it affects your sleep. Extra points if you use a calming scent in your bath, like lavender or chamomile.
- Give Yourself a Caffeine Cut-Off Time
While reaching for a hit of caffeine may help you get through the rest of your workday, it’s likely affecting your ability to sleep. Caffeine has a half-life of about 5 hours—so if your go-to pick-me-up is a 4 o’clock java, approximately half of that caffeine would still be in your system at 9 PM. Some people do metabolize caffeine quicker than others and aren’t as affected by the jitters or energy boost that it provides (you know who you are!). However, it’s more likely that you don’t fully realize how much your afternoon coffee fix impacts your ability to wind down at night. According to Mission.org, even if you don’t physically feel the effects of caffeine at bedtime, it may still be in your system. This week, try giving yourself a caffeine ‘cut-off’ time of at least 6 hours before bedtime. The earlier, the better!
- Switch Up Your Nighttime Beverages
Sipping on a nightcap or having a couple of glasses of wine after dinner may seem like it’s helping you sleep…However, alcohol actually disrupts your sleep cycles. Alcohol may indeed help you to fall asleep faster, but it also can wake you up in the middle of the night and prevent you from getting into the deep REM sleep that your body needs to feel fully rested. Instead of having alcohol before bed, try having a warm and calming drink, like herbal tea or a turmeric latte.
- Shut Down Your Electronics 1-2 Hours Before Bed
Whether it’s scrolling through social media on our phones or squeezing in one last Netflix show, electronics tend to rule our lives—and you’re likely constantly surrounded by them in your home. The problem? Your devices give off blue light, which is a type of light that tells your body to wake up. That’s helpful in the morning—not so much when you’re trying to sleep. If you can, try turning off the screens 1-2 hours before bedtime and pull out a book instead. And if ditching your laptop and phone for a couple of hours before bed isn’t an option, try blue light blocking glasses.
- Try Meditation or Deep Breathing
You may already be a pro meditator, or you may be one who thinks it’s just for the yoga crowd. But whether you realize it or not, meditating (or even just deep breathing) can help you to fall asleep. We’re all prone to racing thoughts that won’t calm down—so if you’re affected by this, know that you’re not alone. Counting to 10 and focusing on your inhalation and exhalation as you breathe can help your body relax almost immediately. Repeat until you’re fast asleep.
- Keep a Notepad by Your Bed
Sometimes we can’t fall asleep at night because we’re thinking of all the things we need to do tomorrow or didn’t get done today. If you’re one of those people, keeping a notepad with a pen on your nightstand can help. Jot down everything that’s on your mind to get those thoughts out of your head. Just knowing that the list is there for tomorrow and that you won’t forget anything can help your mind to relax, calm down and get to sleep.
- Make Sure Your Room Is Dark, Quiet and Cool
There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep in a hot room with all sorts of lights and noises going on around you—so do your best to keep your room dark, quiet and cool. A white noise machine can help to drown out the noises of the night (especially if you live in a noisy building or in the city) while creating the perfect atmosphere for good sleep. Make your room as dark as possible by investing in blackout shades or a sleep mask that blocks out all light. Finally, keep the temperature of your room cool and consistent. Studies have shown that people sleep better in a room that is slightly chilled (we all know the feeling of not being able to sleep when it’s hot and humid!).
Ryan’s sleep issues stem from back pain associated with years of vigorous athletic training. He has owned a gym for several decades, and as you can imagine, he is always researching health-related topics for athletic performance. Ryan quickly realized the importance of sleep, and that compelled him to become a Certified Sleep Coach at Start Sleeping.
“The most impactful thing you can do to get better sleep is consistent sleep and wake times…”
Several studies have concluded that consistent sleep and wake times decreases sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to get to sleep), improves neurological performance, and is better for your heart and for your mood. Our brains do better with regular sleep and wake times because of our circadian rhythm, our internal clock that carries out many functions. Our sleep wake cycle is triggered by light and heat: at night when it gets slightly cooler and darker, it cues our brain to produce melatonin that induces sleep. In the morning as the temperature rises and it becomes lighter, our brain produces cortisol to make us active. If you normally go to sleep at 10 PM, and we’re still awake at 12 AM, your brain has been initiating the process to help you sleep for the last two hours, and it’s a strain on your system when you ignore it. Following a consistent nightly routine is a good way to signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down, increasing the chances of falling asleep easily. A good nightly routine will include habits that will help induce sleep, such as lowering the temperature, dimming the lights, and slowing the brain down.
William Schumacher is the CEO and founder of Uprising Food.
“This is a lesser-known one, but I’ve found that avoiding heavy, greasy, or spicy meals 3 hours before bedtime…”
Can help you sleep better. All of these things will make your body work harder to get you to sleep, including your digestive system. Spicy foods increase your metabolism and body temperature, which makes it harder to sleep. Make healthy choices earlier in the evening and your body will reward you with great sleep later.
When you’re having trouble getting quality sleep at night, give these expert tips and strategies a try to improve the quality of your sleep and get better rest so that you’re prepared to tackle the day ahead.