4: Be smart about what you eat and drink
Your daytime eating habits play a role in how well you sleep, especially in the hours before bedtime.
Limit caffeine and nicotine. You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it! Similarly, smoking is another stimulant that can disrupt your sleep, especially if you smoke close to bedtime.
Avoid big meals at night. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
Avoid alcohol before bed. While a nightcap may help you relax, it interferes with your sleep cycle once youâ€™re out.
Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening. Drinking lots of fluids may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.
Nighttime snacks help you sleep
For some people, a light snack before bed can help promote sleep. For others, eating before bed can lead to indigestion and make sleeping more difficult.
5: Wind down and clear your head
If the stress of work, family, or school is keeping you awake, you may need help with stress management. By learning how to manage your time effectively, handle stress in a productive way, and maintain a calm, positive outlook, youâ€™ll be able to sleep better at night.
The more overstimulated your brain becomes during the day, the harder it can be slow down and unwind at night. During the day, many of us overstress our brains by constantly interrupting tasks to check our phones, emails, or social media. Try to set aside specific times for these things, and focus on one task at a time. When it comes to getting to sleep at night, your brain wonâ€™t be accustomed to seeking fresh stimulation and youâ€™ll be better able to unwind.
Relaxation techniques for better sleep
Practicing relaxation techniques before bed is a great way to wind down, calm the mind, and prepare for sleep. Try:
Deep breathing. Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last.
Progressive muscle relaxation. Starting with your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up to the top of your head.
Visualizing a peaceful, restful place. Close your eyes and imagine a place thatâ€™s calming and peaceful. Concentrate on how relaxed this place makes you feel.
Bedtime rituals to help you relax
Create a â€œtoolboxâ€ of relaxing bedtime rituals to help you unwind before sleep. For example:
Read a book or magazine by a soft light
Take a warm bath
Listen to soft music
Do some easy stretches
Wind down with a favorite hobby
Listen to books on tape
Make simple preparations for the next day
Dim the lights in the hours leading up to bed
6: Improve your sleep environment
A peaceful bedtime routine sends a powerful signal to your brain that itâ€™s time to wind down and let go of the dayâ€™s stresses. Sometimes even small changes to your environment can make a big difference to your quality of sleep.
Keep your room dark, cool, and quiet
Keep noise down. If you canâ€™t avoid or eliminate noise from neighbors, traffic, or other people in your household, try masking it with a fan or sound machine. Earplugs may also help.