The stresses of every day life make getting a good night’s sleep a very common problem for thousands of us. If you’ve had this experience, try out some of the ideas below.
- Eat food with magnesium in it. Research suggests magnesium plays a key role in our ability to sleep through the night. Try chowing on magnesium-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, and Swiss chard. Or pop a ZMA supplement, another form of magnesium, about half an hour before bedtime.
- Take a power nap during the day. Ten to 30 minutes in the mid-afternoon is best to ensure a good night’s sleep. Any longer and we risk falling into deeper stages of sleep, which can leave us feeling groggy when we wake up.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and relaxation. Reserve the bed for bedtime-only activities so the mind associates the bedroom with relaxation. Sleep and sex, yes. Work and bills, not so much.
- Keep your bedroom slightly cool. Between 15 and 23 degrees Celsius is ideal. A room with extreme temperatures leads to more frequent awakenings and lighter sleep.
- Take a hot shower or bath before bed. This can help the mind relax, while the rise and fall of body temperature induces sleepiness.
- Set a daily wake up time. Just like it’s best to go to bed at the same time every day, it’s a good idea to keep a consistent wakeup time — even on the weekends. Irregular bedtime and wake-up hours can lead to poor sleep patterns.
- Make up for lost sleep. Stayed up too late the past few nights? Tack on an extra hour tonight to repay sleep debt and get back on track.
- Don’t toss and turn. Can’t fall asleep? If you’ve been lying in bed awake for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and try a relaxing activity like reading or listening to mellow music. Thinking about not sleeping will bring on even more anxiousness — it’s a vicious cycle.
- Check the medicine cabinet. Certain medications might be interfering with sleep. Think a prescription is the culprit to a sleepless night? Talk to a doctor about potential side effects and how to deal with them.
- Turn the alarm clock away from your face. Watching the time tick by can actually cause more stress and make it harder to fall asleep. Plus, artificial light from electronic gadgets can mess up our circadian rhythm, making our bodies think it’s time to stay up and party.
- Sniff some lavender. This scent can actually be an antidote to insomnia. Try burning lavender-scented candles or essential oils to ease into sleep.
- Try progressive muscle relaxation. Starting with the feet, tense the muscles. Hold for a count of five and then relax. Do this for every muscle group in the body, working up from the feet to the top of the head. A nightly meditation practice that involves focusing on the breath can also help prepare the body for sleep.
- Dim the light. Bright lighting, in particular the «blue light» emitted by most electronic devices, might contribute to sleep disturbances. Tech-savvy insomniacs might want to check out the special glasses designed to block blue light and help us snooze through the night.
- Get some fresh air. Exposure to daylight helps regulate the body’s internal clock and with it, sleep timing. Getting some sunlight also keeps daytime fatigue at bay, leading to more sleepiness at bedtime.
- Drink something warm. While a glass of warm milk might not be medically proven to bring on sleep, the relaxation that comes with sipping on a mug of a «comfort drink» like warm milk, hot chocolate, or tea can make those eyelids a bit heavier.
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