Wake up refreshed every morning—without the help of a sleeping pill
If you’ve ever found yourself watching the clock during prime sleeping hours, you know there’s more to a good night’s sleep than closing your eyes and assuming a horizontal position. Here, we reveal science’s best kept sleep inducers. From environmental fixes to natural remedies, these small changes are all that stand between you and the best sleep of your life.
Keeping a consistent sleep schedule is key to getting restful sleep you can count on. And all you have to do to keep your circadian rhythm on track is aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. You’ll feel noticeably more refreshed in the morning and, according to a brand new study, find maintaining your weight easier. The American Journal of Health Promotion study found consistent sleep and wake times that varied less than 60 minutes from day to day was associated with lower body weight. Maybe you can sleep yourself thin! Here are more ideas to clean up your sleep schedule.
Reach For A Supplement
If your sleep cycle is really out of whack—say, due to taking on the night shift at your job for a week—melatonin supplements may help get your sleep cycle back on track, say experts.
Don’t Nap After 4PM
Naps are essential for catching up on lost sleep, but taking one after 4pm is almost guaranteed to cut into your healthy eight hours. Instead, aim for a 20-minute snooze between 12pm and 1pm—it will give you enough energy and alertness to send you coasting through the dreaded 4pm slump.
Fight Nighttime Drowsiness
Falling asleep on the couch for even 20 minutes can make for a sleepless night. To avoid succumbing to heavy eyelids, get moving! Take a walk (even just around the house), sort laundry, or return those unanswered voicemails—anything to engage high-level cognitive processes.
Cut Caffeine After 2PM
Caffeine can stay in your system for eight hours or even longer, so try to keep your intake of regular coffee, soda, or energy drinks to the morning and early afternoon.
What you do from the moment you wake up impacts your night’s sleep—so why not adopt a few sleep-happy habits to make your journey into dreamland as smooth as possible? Here are some ideas:
Open The Blinds
To make waking up a little bit easier, start your day with a healthy dose of sunlight. It will signal the body to suppress melatonin production so you can start your day. Try drinking your first cup of coffee in front of a sunny window.
Try A Hot Bath
Seems counterintuitive from that last trick, but hear us out: taking a hot bath will relax you, for sure. But as soon as your get out, that sudden drop in body temperature is exactly what your body needs to start producing the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.
Kick That Smoking Habit For Good
If you still haven’t quit smoking, do it for the good of your sleep: nicotine is a stimulant, so a nighttime cigarette to “wind down” will actually keep you up well past your bedtime (and lead to a miserable tomorrow).
Sniff Some Aromatherapy
It is long believed that the scent of lavender can act as a mild sedative, so try an essential oil diffuser, room spray, or lotion at night to get you in the sleepy time mood. Just be sure to use the real stuff—synthetic fragrances often contain dangerous chemicals and preservative (like phthalates) and can trigger allergies.
The state of your bedroom is a big influence on the quality of your sleep. Surrounding yourself with the right colors, temperatures, and sleep aides can help you fall asleep faster and more comfortably. Try adding a few of these to your boudoir:
Cool It Down
A gradual drop in body temperature signals your brain it’s time for bed. Help it out by keeping your bedroom a cool 65 to 68 degrees—what experts believe to be the ideal sleeping temperature.
Crank Up The Pink Noise
Forget white noise—when it comes to sleep, pink noise (a perfectly consistent frequency, like rain falling out your window) is the key to deeper sleep. In fact, in a 2012 study, 75% of study participants reported more restful sleep when they slept with pink noise. For perfect pink noise every time, grab the Sleep And Noise Sounds app (free on iTunes).
Turn Off The TV
Falling asleep to a TV is tempting, but the soft blue light can stimulate your mind and signal your body to stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin. A good swap: listen to music or an audio book instead.
Keep A Journal By Your Bed
If you find yourself lying on your back with your mind going a mile a minute, it’s okay—you’re not alone. Instead of wasting precious sleep hours, reach into your bedside drawer and empty your thoughts onto a piece of paper. You might find they aren’t as daunting as you may have thought, and you can easily address them the next day without leaving any out.
Clear Up Clutter
But why—I can’t see it when I sleep? Feng shui experts disagree—in their world, clutter and mess disrupt the balance and flow of energy, creating a hostile environment. But even if the feng shui point of view isn’t for you, you can’t argue that clutter does create stress. Do your best to sort through your piles before bed so you can sleep with a clear conscience.