Sleep doesn’t always come easy. While some of us are out as soon as head meets pillow, many of us have to fight a little harder to get past counting sheep. There are steps you can take, however, if you want to hedge your bets. While long-term, persistent insomnia is something you’ll want to see your doctor about, milder sleep issues can usually be handled with tips like the ones listed below. So grab your favorite pillow, find your best sleeping position, and get ready to catch some z’s.
Turn Off Devices
You’re going to hear it from just about every medical professional: don’t use electronics before bed. The reason is pretty simple—your body is taking its cues from light sources. In olden times, it was easy to tell if it was bedtime since the sun would go to bed, too, in a sense. The darkness clearly indicated to the brain that it was time to start producing melatonin, and the whole body would begin powering down for a long nap.
These days, it’s different. We have abundant sources of artificial light that can fool our circadian rhythms into thinking the sun is still out, and there’s still diem left to be carpe-ed. While the light from fluorescent and LED bulbs is bad, the blue light from phone and computer screens is worse. It suppresses melatonin and keeps your mind engaged. Worse still, you tend to look directly at it (which you don’t do with lightbulbs). So put the devices away before bed, and maybe cuddle up with a good book instead.
Keep It Dark
In line with the previous tip, your brain won’t think it’s time to sleep until the “sun” goes down for the night. Leaving lights on, or having a nightlight that’s too bright, will disrupt melatonin production, making it difficult to go to sleep and stay that way. Do what you can to make it dark in your bedroom. During the summer, this may mean employing the use of things like blackout curtains or sleep masks; it’s worth the extra effort, though. You’ll have an easier time slipping into dreamland if the waking world isn’t trying to force itself into your eyes.
Ever wake up hot and sweaty? Our bodies don’t usually like being too warm at night, even in the best of sleeping positions. In fact, the body tries to vent heat and cool itself several degrees, and it can’t do that if it’s hotter in the room than it is inside your body. Turn on the AC or open the window so the room comes down a few degrees. That way, you can get nice and cozy underneath your favorite blanket.
Use Soothing Sounds
Have a partner that snores? Live too close to the train tracks? Neighbor own a dog that barks all night? Do what you can to block out the disruptive noises. Popular options include buying a white noise machine or listening to slow, soothing music to help you sleep. Slow, soft, and repetitive sounds function as comforting background noise and can block out more intrusive sounds.
Get a Better Bed
The quality of our beds has a major impact on the kind of sleep we get. Factors such as size, age, support, and comfort all impact whether or not we wake up in the morning with major aches and pains. There’s a lot of options out there, and most companies will tell you that their mattresses are the best. The general consensus, though, is that old-style spring mattresses aren’t as sleep-friendly as newer alternatives. Keep in mind, though, that even if you have a fancy, expensive bed, if it’s too small, you’re likely still getting poor sleep. To be pithy about it, if you’re looking to sleep like a king, you’re going to want something with the dimensions of a king-size mattress.