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Sleep Improvement Techniques

Whether you are waking up feeling like you’re still tired, struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, or just conscious of the fact that the quantity and quality of your sleep isn’t sufficient and you want to improve it, you’re absolutely not alone. Sleep deprivation has become a public health epidemic, and even those who aren’t falling short enough on your sleep for it to be a health worry, people are becoming more and more aware that sleep is just as important as exercise and nutrition to our overall health. There are sleep monitors and devices for sale, new sleep supplements that people are praising, and even a list of foods that are said to help you fall asleep too quickly, but the truth is that you don’t need all that – you just need to stick to the simple rules of sleep hygiene.

There are pages and pages that have been written about how to optimize your sleep, but if you’re looking for a quick rundown, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a list of our favorite sleep hygiene hints, boiled down to their simplest and most straightforward form:

  1. Make sure your room is nice and dark. That means turn your clock radio’s face to the wall, close your bedroom door and stick a towel at the bottom to keep even a crack of light from penetrating, buy room darkening curtains and keep your electronic devices out of our room. Light makes your brain wake up, and dark makes it go to sleep – it’s just that simple.
  2. Make sure that your room is nice and cool. It might feel comforting to be warm and cozy, but your bedroom temperature should never be higher than 70 degrees, and you’re much better off and going to sleep more soundly if it is between 60 and 68 degrees. Your body’s core temperature drops when you sleep, and keeping your environment cool facilitates that process.
  3. Turn off all electronic devices at least two hours before bed. They are too distracting, too stimulating, and they emit a light that tells your brain that it’s time to wake up.
  4. Change your alarm clock’s sound to something soft and soothing instead of jarring and, well, alarming. Once you start to sleep soundly and get yourself onto a healthy sleep schedule you’ll probably find yourself waking up at the right time without benefit of an alarm anyway, but in the meantime, it is much healthier to wake up to soft sounds or even a light that gradually builds in intensity than a loud buzzing sound.
  5. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. If you work or watch television in bed you create an association that works against your ability to fall asleep easily. If your bed only means sleep then you will immediately start to feel drowsy as soon as you get under the covers.
  6. If your bed partner snores or moves around a lot at night, think about separate bedrooms, or at least separate mattresses. Many marriages have been saved by pushing two twin beds together so that one partner’s tossing and turning stops waking the other.
  7. Make sure you’re in bed by 11:00 each night, because studies have shown that the most restorative sleep happens between 11:00 and 1:00 in the morning.
  8. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, going to bed at the same time each night and waking at the same time each morning, even on weekends. The more regular your sleep pattern is, the more your body will adjust to it and begin to get drowsy and alert each day in sync with the pattern that you establish.
  9. Create a nightly bedtime routine such as meditation, stretching, reading, listening to music for a certain amount of time each night right before bed. Just as children learn that their bedtime stories precede going to sleep each night, your body will learn that the routine you establish is its cue to start to wind down.
  10. Cut back on fluids for at least two hours prior to going to bed. Though you might enjoy a cup of herbal tea before bedtime, taking in that fluid is likely to have you up in the middle of the night in order to go to the bathroom.
  11. Make sure that you go to the bathroom every night right before you go to bed in order to minimize the chance of waking up with the need to go.
  12. Eat a high protein snack with a piece of fruit a couple of hours before bed. Not only does the protein provide you with L-tryptophan, which helps you feel drowsy, but the fruit helps your body access it.
  13. Stay away from high fat, high sugar snacks or desserts right before bed.
  14. Try taking a hot bath or shower right before you go to bed. Not only will you find it relaxing, but when you step out of the shower into the cooler air it forces your body temperature to drop rapidly, and this aids your ability to fall asleep quickly.
  15. Keep work out of the bedroom and put it away at least an hour before you start to get ready for bed. You may think you’re done when you put it away, but it takes your brain at least an hour to stop being stimulated or stressed by the content that you’ve been working on.
  16. Keep a journal or notepad next to your bed and use it to record any kind of to-do list or things that are worrying you before you turn out the lights. By doing this you provide your brain with the knowledge that you’ve addressed the problem and it will be taken care of the next day, thus avoiding tossing and turning at night.
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