Most people complain about not getting a good night’s sleep from time to time. Everyone has nights when they toss and turn in bed for hours and then wake up unrefreshed. If you find yourself in a pattern of sleeplessness, however, there may be something more at play. Factors such as stress at work, worrying about paying the bills or dealing with a family illness are just a few of the things that can interfere with sound sleep. Even if you can’t eliminate all of the factors that hinder sleep, there are some smart nighttime sleep habits that may help you get the rest you need.
Make Your Bedroom a Restful Place
Your bedroom should be a restful, quiet place. Limit the use of TV or computer screens close to bedtime. Look into buying shades that darken your room if outside lights are a factor. A fan or earplugs can also help eliminate noises and other disturbances. You should try to avoid spending much time in bed during the day so that you always associate bed with sleep.
Watch What You Drink and Eat Before Bedtime
You should never eat a heavy meal right before you go to bed since it can cause indigestion. Caffeine is another thing to avoid for several hours before you try to sleep. Alcohol can initially make you sleepy, but it can wake you up during the night and prevent you from getting back to sleep.
Keep a Routine Sleep Schedule
If possible, try to go to bed around the same time each night and don’t stay in bed for more than eight hours. When you are consistent in your bedtime routine, it will help your body keep a stable sleep cycle.
Reduce Naps During the Day
If you find you need a nap during the day, try to limit it to 30 minutes or less and never nap after 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
Try to Resolve Worries
Of course, you can’t eliminate your worries, but if you take time to write down the issues that you can resolve the next day it will help your mind relax so that you can get to sleep.
Make Exercise a Part of Your Day
Daily exercise can help you get a better night’s sleep, but don’t do anything too active right before you go to bed.
Keep a Sleep Diary
Another great idea is to begin tracking your sleep with a sleep diary. There are many diary templates available on the Internet but keeping it simple is usually the best option. A sleep doctor will recommend that you follow a few steps and write down your thoughts each morning and evening.
- Step 1 – On the first night, think about your day and jot down some of the following information:
- Energy – Record how much energy you had throughout the day and include if there was a specific time when energy surged or dropped.
- Stimulants – Write down what time you drank caffeine, alcohol or smoked tobacco and include the amounts.
- Naps – Record the time and length of any naps.
- Medications – Jot down any medications that you took during the day.
- Stressful situations – Record any unusual stressful things that happened.
- Step 2 – When you get up in the morning, reflect on your night’s sleep:
- Record how long it took to get to sleep.
- Write down how many times you woke up and how long it took to get back to sleep.
- Log how you felt as you got up that morning.
It may help visually to create a spreadsheet with columns for each item. If you wake up during the night, it is important to wait until the morning to fill out the diary. You don’t want to feel more stressed about getting back to sleep. Observing your sleep pattern for about a month can help you see potential problems that may be corrected.
If you still don’t see any progress after making healthy changes to your sleep hygiene, you may need to consult with your physician about the possibility of another underlying illness or sleep disorder. It would be a wise idea to rule out such things as sleep apnea, which can pose serious health risks. Other things that can affect sleep are an iron deficiency or deviated septum.
Following some healthy sleep habits should help you get the rest you need so that you can tackle whatever the next day brings.