Sleeping seems like a trivial act. You climb into bed, close your eyes, then fall asleep… Right? But what about those occasional nights where you struggle with sleep? Maybe you can’t fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night. Whatever the case is, we can’t keep losing sleep.
We all know too well how important sleep can be to our well-being. Losing an hour or two of sleep can put a huge dent in how we perform the next day. If we can equip ourselves with the right skills to take care of our sleep and practice good sleep behavior every day, then we might live happier and less stressful days. Taking care of your nighttime slumber means being able to focus on more important things in our lives with greater energy and attention.
What if we’re sleeping just fine? Why bother improving our sleep? Climbing into bed and shutting our eyes isn’t rocket science, is it?
Why Bother Reading About Ways To Sleep Better?
Sleep is essential to our health. Not only for our well-being but also to tackle our day-to-day activities.
One of great things we can do for ourselves is to wake up feeling energized and refreshed. Giving a good night of rest for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being lets us better prepare for the next day ahead.
There are also many other reasons to fall asleep. Curbing our impulsiveness for snacking on junk food, resting our body so our muscles and tissue can grow and repair themselves, and taking care of our brains so we can properly process our memories are important health reasons to sleep all the better.
We’re not entirely sure how sleep works. But there is one thing we are certain: getting sufficient quality sleeping will do us wonders. If we can master the sleep which makes up one-third of our lives, then we can spend our remaining wakeful two-thirds living happy and healthier lives.
First off, we need to know what we can do to practice better sleep. Here are the 7 steps you can take to improve your quality of sleep each night:
7 Steps To Take For Feeling Refreshed And Energized Every Night
1. Keep An Eye Out On Your Food And Drinks
There are substances we unwittingly take that lower our quality of sleep and being stationary for long hours. Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are what I like to call the Big Three. These three substances can negatively impact our sleep to the extent we might not known or considered.
Caffeine, found in coffee, helps wake our brains up. It makes us much more alert and can help us perform our best during the day. The problem is when it’s taken too close to bedtime. Caffeine will make it much more difficult for us to become drowsy.
Nicotine also does the same thing as caffeine as a stimulant. Too much nicotine from smoking or other means of ingestion close to bedtime can make falling asleep difficult.
Alcohol can make us drowsy. Some people drink alcohol to fall asleep, and it’ll work. The problem is alcohol reduces our quality of sleep. This means waking up feeling groggy and unrested.
You can take steps to reduce drinking caffeine and alcohol or consuming nicotine. Cutting back several hours before bedtime can help tremendously. We know it might be difficult at first. You might need time to adapt. You might not also want to cut the substances out entirely, either. Coming up with a plan to reduce your intake either bit by bit or in a cold-turkey fashion will undoubtedly improve your sleep game.
If you can curb your caffeine and nicotine before mid-afternoon, falling asleep can be easier. The same goes for alcohol. Avoid having a drink before bedtime!
2. Practice Amazing Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene is a sleep routine and best practices that help you sleep well each night. The most basic practices are to ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable. This means blocking out any outdoor light with a blackout curtain, lowering your room temperature with air condition or open air flow, and using white noise to drown out disruptive noise.
Here are other best sleep hygiene practices that might help you:
- preparing for your day after;
- writing in a journal;
- reflecting on your past day;
- reading a good book;
- saying your goodnights to your children;
- giving your partner a kiss and snuggle; and
- a mindful prayer.
Starting with the basics of a cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable bedroom can induce and facilitate restful sleep. When you introduce other practices into your bedtime routine, you can make your sleep even better and more rejuvenating.
3. Steering Clear From Screens, Work, And Entertainment
This is another typical advice we hear often that can influence your quality of sleep each night. The blue light produced from electronic devices such as your smartphones, television, and computer monitors can increase alertness and make falling asleep difficult.
Putting away your devices and keeping them outside your bedroom is ideal. Giving yourself adequate time to wind down from the bright screens can also be essential in better sleep. You should also avoid using these devices if you wake up at night (unless you want to cut your sleep short).
Tidbit: If you are having trouble falling back to sleep, consider doing something mundane, boring, and/or relaxing. Meditation is a great alternative. Reading a book works, too. I personally like to write what’s on my mind as I sit in the dark, by a window, with the moonlight helping me. 🙂
If you use your smartphone before bed or need to keep it around, minimize its disruptive design. Set your device on ‘Do Not Disturb’, minimize the number of notifications allowed, lower your screen brightness, and change your color settings to grayscale. Although this won’t stop the feeling of wakefulness from looking into a bright screen, it minimizes disruption to your sleepy state.
4. Stick To The Same Schedule, Even On Weekends
You might have heard this one in every single sleep-related article, but it’s an essential point. We are creatures of habit. Sleeping inconsistently is the surest way to cause insomnia and making sleep nearly impossible.
The reason it’s important to follow a consistent sleep-wake schedule has to do with our body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm in us dictate how we are throughout a 24-hour(ish) period. It includes managing our sleep cycles and when to release hormones that cause us drowsiness.
When we both go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, we develop an internal pattern that helps us fall asleep easier and sleep better each night. So make sure you decide on what time is best for your sleep and what time you should wake up every day. This includes the weekends, too!
5. Your Bedroom Is For Sleep And Sex Only
Treating your bedroom like a sacred slumber cave is also important. Aside from changing your clothes or other activities to get ready for your day, we want your bedroom to be a place where your brain can relax entirely.
This means is no stressful activities belong in the bedroom: no work, no jumping around, and especially no eating! By getting rid of everything that might cause you to be alert (devices included!), your body can better associate your bedroom as a place for relaxing, sleeping, and intimacy.
6. Practice Optimizing Your Sleep
I wrote a comprehensive guide at SleepKozy on how to optimize your sleep efficiency. This topic on optimizing sleep efficiency isn’t something that is talked about enough. Sleep hygiene plays a role in sleeping efficiently, but there is much more to it than that.
Everybody’s sleep is different. Your sleep needs might be entirely different from the sleep needs of your friends, families, and colleagues. Following typical advice such as making sure you sleep 8 hours a day might not be fit for you. A person might be well-rested after 7 hours while another person may need 9 hours. If you need 9 hours of sleep, but only get 8 hours each day, the one-hour sleep debt can add up quickly. Not good!
The goal of optimizing your sleep is to understand of how much sleep you need and improve the efficiency of how much rest you get each night. Look at what’s written in the sleep optimization guide. You will want to understand and consider a variety of factors before studying your sleep. Then, you can find out how much sleep you need. Once you know your sleep needs, you can then optimize for it!
Please keep in mind your sleep needs will change gradually. It’s not something you can notice, but following the guide from time to time can help you identify when your sleep is different or in need of optimization.
7. Own The Best Mattress And Pillow For You
Sleeping on a terrible bed with a terrible pillow won’t be a great way to snooze at night. It can cause aches and pain, soreness, and troubling sleep experiences each night. You don’t have to replace your mattress and pillow today, but knowing when to do so is an important key. It’s easy to keep sleeping in a mattress for several years and not realize it might be slowly stealing sleep from you.
Most mattresses have a useful lifespan between 5 to 10 years. This differs between mattress types and brands. If you can mark your calendar to remind yourself whether your mattress is still the best for you, then losing sleep over an old one won’t slip by you.
Mattresses and pillows can be defective. As a result, premature sagging and indentation can cause a lot of stressful nights.
Your mattress can also wear out past their useful lifespan, then develop sagging and indentations. I wrote a helpful guide here that goes into further detail to help you decide when it’s time to change your bed.
Your bed should help encourage great nights of sleep. If your mattress and pillows is no longer best for you, then it might be time for a change up.
What You Can Do So Better Sleep Isn’t A One-time Thing
‘Lifestyle creep’ might be a term for financials, but it can also be applied to our sleep. It’s easy to stay up just one more hour to finish an episode of Game Of Thrones or work a little more each night. When we lose hours of sleep, we can easily throw our nighttime patterns out of sync. Here are three ways to make sure your better sleep isn’t just a one-time thing:
- Create a personal checklist: You can use pen and paper to mark down the step-by-step process on this page. Typing out your sleep routine and printing it out for checking off can be easier.
- Bookmark and review this page from time to time: That way, you can always come back to here for reference whenever you need.
- Make use of timers: If you’re using a smartphone, then setting alarms at night can help draw a line when your day should end and when you should prepare for bedtime. Make sure you give yourself some room for error.
There are many things we can do that will make all the difference in our quality of sleep. Sleep is an essential biological activity which we spend a third of our lives doing. If we can sleep better starting today, then the other two-thirds we spend awake can lead us to live happier and healthier lives.
Problems with sleep can be complex and difficult to solve. However, the solution to them be simple. Bookmark this page, practice these steps each day, and revisit them from time to time. They might make all the difference to your sleep.
If you would like to learn more about sleep, visit my website at SleepKozy.com! I enjoy researching about sleep. I keep myself up-to-date with the latest sleep trends and sleep studies, and share what I learn to help others sleep better each night.
About The Author:
Hannah Rose at SleepKozy.com