Five Easy Tips for Better SleepFeb 27, 2018
Lying awake in bed when you rather be catching Z's can feel like torture. Perhaps you know the feeling as frustration over your lack of sleep increases, your agitation amplifies, and then sleep becomes even more difficult. It's a vicious cycle.
Read below for five tips that can prevent or crumble that cycle so you can get better sleep.
- Flow & Release. If you lie awake for 20 minutes or more, try to flow with it. You may find it helpful to write down any worries so that you can stop running them through your head and release them. Just remember to keep your room dark, even if you are journaling.
- Disengage. To avoid ruminating about the fact that you can’t sleep, you can try techniques that disengage your mind. For instance, you can try doing some math in your head, like counting backward from 300 by threes. You might also try the breath technique over at our Foundations section.
- Time Your Meals. What you eat--and when!--can have a significant impact on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. If possible, eat early in the day and eat light overall. Ideally, you would have your largest meal at mid-day, when your body is most geared toward digestion. Eat lighter at the evening meal, but eat enough that you don’t have to snack right before bed. Eating more complex carbs (e.g. whole grains, beans, root vegetables) and a small amount of protein at the evening meal will help stabilize your blood sugar, allowing tryptophan to enter the brain and make the calming chemical serotonin (which supports sleep!).
- Exercise. Exercise during the day will likely help you sleep better. Just remember to try and finish moderate to high intensity exercise at least three hours before you go to bed to keep your stress hormones down and your body cool at bedtime.
- Cat Naps (maybe). People who take short naps appear to learn better and solve problems more creatively. But (and this is a big but), short naps are actually more ideal for folks who sleep pretty well at night. A nap simply can't fix poor sleep or make up for lost hours. Nonetheless, a short nap may make you feel a bit better after a night of tossing and turning. So, whether you're sleeping well or not so well, here's how you can make naps work for you:
- Time it right. You don’t want daytime sleep to affect your circadian rhythm and make it hard to fall asleep at night. So keep it between the hours of noon and 3 PM, assuming your bedtime is 10 or 11 PM.
- Keep it short. An optimal nap length is 30 minutes or less. Sleeping longer can make you groggy and can make it much harder to fall asleep at night.
Want more sleep support? Visit the Sleep category for free resources and more tailored, comprehensive sleep strategies that you can implement today to get more peaceful Z's.