The role of sleep in our lives is a very important one. Without it, we are tired, miserable and struggle to get as much done as we should. Unfortunately, despite most of us being aware of this importance, we still struggle to get consistently good nights of sleep.
Tens of millions of American adults deal with sleep-related disorders that hold them back from a good night of sleep. But many others are actually doing things that are hurting their sleep, often without even knowing. Without any further ado, let’s go over a couple of actionable things you can do today to sleep better each and every night.
Get the right mattress
The first key to sleeping well is getting the right mattress. The right mattress is one that is not only comfortable and supportive, but fits well with your sleeping position. Some may need one that is softer, while others will require a high level of firmness.
Of course, if you share a bed with someone, be sure to take their needs into consideration. This Old House article will be able to assist you in finding the best mattress not only for you, but also your partner.
In addition to your mattress, the rest of your sleep environment is also important. This goes for accessories like pillows and blankets, and also how bright/dark and quiet your room is.
Have a ‘before-bed’ routine
In order to sleep well, you need to be sure you are in the right mindset. If you try to sleep right after watching a loud action movie, you will likely struggle. Instead, develop a good “before-bed” routine to wind down and relax. This will make your transition to sleep much easier.
You can do things like meditate, do a bit of yoga, read a good book, listen to your favourite music or have a bath. Whatever things you can do to relax and wind down after a long and hard day, are fair game.
Watch what you eat and drink
You would be surprised at how much what you eat and drink can actually impact how well you sleep. Many foods have ingredients that can have a negative impact on your sleep. A common example is the caffeine in coffee. If you drink coffee too late in the day, the caffeine and all the energy it provides will keep you up all night.
However, coffee isn’t the only thing to avoid before bed. Avoid spicy foods and large heavy meals right before bed, as they can make you uncomfortable, which can hold back your ability to get and stay asleep.
Stay away from screens before bed
Most of us spend hours every day in front of screens. Between our phones, the TV and our computers, screens play a crucial role in how we work and have fun. But if you want to get the best sleep possible, avoid these screens for at least an hour before bed.
Looking at bright screens can make it hard for your body to naturally transition into “rest” mode. If you do need to use technology before bed, do so with the brightness down or with a setting or filter that reduces blue light, as it can often be most jarring to our eyes.
Keep your sleep schedule consistent
It is often easier for our body to sleep well when we are sleeping and waking at consistent times. As a result, do your best to try and go to bed and wake up at similar times daily. Our body has natural sleep and wake cycles and if yours is all over the place, it can be confusing for your body.
This change might not be easy at first, if you are used to sleeping and waking at different times, but in time your body will certainly adjust. Eventually, you may even be able to sleep without needing to use an alarm clock to wake up.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in mental health and well-being.