Is there really any better part of your day than the moment you get to slide between the sheets and curl up under your blankets? If this happy moment is marred by the thought of yet another restless night’s sleep, then there are clearly some changes you need to make to regain that peaceful end-of-day feeling.
Skip Sleeping In
That may sound like torture, but having an unreliable sleep schedule causes more harm than good for your sleep cycle. A steady bedtime and wake up will help your sleep cycles stay rhythmic and let you sleep more soundly.
Monitor Your Caffeine Intake
Drinking caffeine within eight hours of bedtime can keep your brain racing while you’re desperate for some shut eye. Studies have shown that caffeine lasts at least 8 hours, meaning your mid-afternoon pick me up is doing more harm than good. Make 2 PM your cutoff time for soda or coffee and try a more natural wake up like a brief spot of exercise or a healthy snack.
Skip the Nightcap
You might feel like you wind down better with a glass of wine or a nip of scotch, but studies have shown that dropping alcohol levels signal your body to wake up, meaning that wine you finished an hour before bedtime will later wake you up just as you start sawing logs. Make sure your last glass of alcohol is finished at least two hours before bed.
Have a Snack
A full tummy has been shown to help you drift off to sleep and stay asleep. The ideal snack before bed is a combination of a carbohydrate and a protein or calcium source with the sleep inducing hormone typtophan. Good pre-bedtime nummies include whole grain toast with peanut butter, a whole grain cereal with milk, or crackers and cheese/turkey.
Have Someone Read You a Bedtime Story
This works on adults, too! Load your iPod with an audiobook of a story that you know inside and out. The repetition of a story you love will relax your mind and help you drift off to sleep a lot more quickly. A well-known story will distract you without revving your mind up.
Turn Down the Thermostat
Waking up hot is miserable, and obviously being hot disturbs your sleep. Experts say the ideal room temperature should be between 65 and 75 degrees (we recommend 68 degrees, because it’s cool enough to promote sleep, but not downright cold).
Keep the Room as Dark as Possible
Any light source can sneak through your closed eyelids and disturb your sleep. Avoid having electronics on your nightstand; if you can’t bear to have your cell phone out of reach, keep it turned over and on silent to avoid any light if someone texts you.
Your pillow should keep your neck and shoulders aligned. Have your sleeping partner check your alignment as you snooze and change pillows if your neck is flexed.
Do What Feels Right If You’re Having a Restless Night
If you’re lying awake in bed for more than 15 minutes, do what will relax you. If that means staying in bed or getting up for a glass of milk, do what feels right.
Skip the Naps
Long naps can keep you awake long into the night, but some studies are showing even short power naps affect your sleep quality. If you’re having a hard time sleeping even after a brief nap, consider cutting it out completely.
-- Important: The Sleep Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Instead, this website provides general information for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider if you have questions or concerns regarding any medical condition or treatment.