For years I’ve wanted to learn how to sleep better. I struggled with getting a good night’s sleep and blamed a million different things. I’d protest that I’m simply a night owl and thus not meant to rise and shine bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I’d blame the dogs for barking, my husband for being restless, my bladder for making me get up during the night, or anything else I could grasp at in an attempt to proclaim that not sleeping well was simply not my fault and therefore I was helpless to change it.
Eventually (see: after about 10 years of living in a state of almost permanent exhaustion) I learned how to sleep better and that I was capable of getting a good night’s sleep. I just needed to be willing to make a few changes to my home and my habits. Now that I’m sleeping well and waking up feeling rested, I wanted to share my top 3 tips to getting a good night’s sleep with you.
Create a consistent routine
Babies and children aren’t the only ones that need a sleep routine. I used to think, “I’m an adult so I’ll go to bed when I’m good and tired #thankyouverymuch!” but I didn’t realize how much that was hurting my sleep habits. If you want to learn how to sleep better you need to begin with keeping a consistent routine. You need to train your body for sleep so that it becomes a natural response to stimuli and routine rather than something you try to force because the clock says it’s late. To create a consistent routine so that you can sleep well:
- Go to sleep at the same time every night
- Wake up at the same time every morning (if you’re tired from a late night out, wake up at the same time and opt for a 15-20 minute mid-day nap instead of sleeping in)
- Practice meditation, prayer, or other relaxation technique before bedtime
Build an environment conducive to sleep
I used to be able to fall asleep anywhere. My family joked that I could sleep in the middle of a hurricane but as I grew older that became more of a problem and struggled to sleep in strange environments, in a car, on a plane, or any place that wasn’t my own bed. I’m not one for medication so I refused sleep aids and chose to use my sleep struggles as an excuse to remodel and redecorate our bedroom. To build a strong sleep-inducing environment you should:
- Enhance your exposure to light by seeking out bright well-lit spaces when you first wake-up and throughout the day. Open the windows, go outside, and encourage bright lights which stimulate your mind and encourage wakefulness.
- Minimize your exposure to light at night by minimizing screen usage, turning down lights, and closing curtains. Your brain naturally secretes melatonin when it’s dark which, in turn, makes you drowsy.
- Minimize noise in your bedroom by turning off any noisy devices and setting your phone to restricted hours. If you can’t minimize all noise (neighbors, traffic, etc) try using a white noise machine.
- Turn on your overhead fan and, if you don’t have one, get one installed. An overhead fan keeps the air circulating and help to cool down the room, both of which encourage better sleep.
- Buy a new mattress or add a foam topper to your existing mattress if you find yourself tossing or turning throughout the night or waking up with a sore back. Everyone requires different levels of firmness or softness to sleep well and you may need to make adjustments to your current arrangement. You can find the perfect mattress for you right here on Nest Bedding. You should also stay out of your bed unless you’re sleeping or having sex because restricting the reasons you use the bed help train your brain to know that being in bed means you’re about to do one of two things. No reading, watching TV, or other activities allowed.
- Replace your bedding (this includes your comforter, sheets, and pillows). These items can wear out quickly due to use and should be replaced when they show heavy wear. You should also be washing them regularly. Our sheets and pillowcases (anything that touches skin) are washed weekly while other bed linens are washed monthly. I replace our pillows twice a year and buy a new comforter every 4 – 5 years depending on use (but we have dogs so do a little research to find out how often you should replace yours).
- Refresh your bedding and pillows with a clean deodorizing mist when you’re making the bed or folding it down for sleep. I like to quickly mist my pillows and sheets with the Sunset Cotton Air Wick mist because it doesn’t leave a wet residue like other sprays and it keeps things smelling crisp and clean when I’m tucked into bed.
Monitor your food + drink intake and exercise habits
By the time we are home from work and sit down for dinner it’s usually 7pm or later. We clean up the kitchen, walk the dogs, and settle down for the evening only to realize it’s nearly 10pm. It’s easy to get snacky when you find yourself able to binge on a little Netflix after a long day. I knew it was something I needed to do if I was going to figure out how to sleep better but it’s hard. Fortunately, I know there are sleep-promoting foods which make for good late-night snacks if you can’t resist nibbling on something.
Finding time to exercise is hard too. I know I could go after 9pm but by that time of night, I’m lazy. I’ve learned to get creative with my workouts (like I shared here) because I sleep better on days I workout. Exercise is reported to improve the symptoms associated with insomnia and increases the time you spend in the deep stages of sleep which lead to you feeling rested when you wake up.
To make sure that your food and drink intake and exercise habits are leading to quality sleep you should:
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, even if it’s just walking or pedaling at your desk. It can take a couple of months before you feel the full effect so be patient and stick with it.
- Finish intense workouts at least 3 hours before bedtime so the increase in your metabolism and body temperature doesn’t keep you up. If you’re exercising before bed, try something low impact like yoga. I do yoga at home using yogadownload.com.
- Minimize caffeine after 12pm. Caffeine can affect your sleep for up 12 hours after drinking it. Drinking coffee in the morning and water for the rest of the day. You can also use a water bottle like this one to infuse fruit or vegetables with your water. I infuse cucumber because it’s great for your skin and immune system.
- Avoid eating after 8pm and anything heavy, rich, or spicy. Those foods can lead to heartburn, stomach troubles, and nightmares. Eat prior to 8pm and drink plenty of water.
If you find yourself having trouble sleeping, give my tips up above a try and see if they help you learn how to sleep better. I’m not a morning person and I don’t believe I ever will be but I definitely find myself feeling rested in the morning and that’s a huge difference from how I was feeling before.
The Air Wick products were received as complimentary products from Air Wick US. This post includes affiliate links which help support Honey & Pine.
If you have any other tips to help others learn how to sleep better, I’d love to hear them!
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