When we’re kids, there’s virtually nothing more torturous than going to bed. As adults, getting a good night’s sleep should be a pleasure, but few of us actually log seven or more hours in bed. According to the CDC, more than one-third of Americans aren’t getting a sufficient amount of sleep at night. Worse yet, the amount of sleep most of us are getting continues to dwindle. A study published in the journal Sleep reveals that the number of people getting under six hours of sleep a night has increased over the past 40 years, increasing our risk of obesity, heart attacks, workplace accidents, and other serious health issues along the way.
The good news? Getting a better night’s sleep may be easier than you think. These 20 nighttime habits are guaranteed to help you sleep better and wake up more refreshed in the morning. And for more ways to steal a whole eight hours every night, learn the 10 Genius Tricks For Falling Back Asleep in the Middle of the Night.
Turn off the TV
Netflix and chill? More like Netflix and stay up all night worrying if that Black Mirror plot could actually happen in real life. Researchers at the University Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that watching TV before bed may make a person chronically sleep-deprived, as it often prompts people to go against their biological sleep cues. For a more restful evening, turn off the TV a few hours before bed and enjoy some less-disruptive activities, like reading, instead. And for more amazing nighttime advice, learn the 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets for Falling Asleep Faster—Tonight.
Grab a Cup of Tea
Waking well-rested could be as simple as brewing yourself a cup of chamomile tea in the evening. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing reveals that new mothers who added chamomile tea to their routine experienced fewer physical effects from sleep deprivation, including depression, than those who skipped the tea.
Take an Omega-3 Supplement
Fish oil is great for your heart, but did you know that it’s also pretty effective when it comes to your sleep habits, too? According to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, omega-3 supplementation significantly improved sleep in a group of elementary school children, so go ahead and pop a couple fish oil capsules before bed. And for more nutritious tips, read up on the 30 Best Foods for Maximizing Your Energy Levels.
Break a Sweat
Before you pop a sleeping pill, try taking a few laps around the block first. Exercise is a great way to develop healthier sleep habits and get yourself physically tired enough to crawl into bed. In fact, researchers at Northwestern University found that aerobic exercise significantly attenuated insomnia symptoms in a group of adult study subjects. And honestly, who couldn’t benefit for a little more time at the gym? And if you need exercise ideas, learn the 30 Workouts That Burn More Than 500 Calories An Hour.
Crank Up the White Noise
Why spend half your paycheck on expensive sleep solutions when a cheap white noise machine (or even a white noise app) can help you get the rest you need? A study of newborn babies reveals that white noise significantly reduced the amount of time it took study subjects to fall asleep. So, if you’re struggling to sleep make sure you’ve got one (or a few) strategically placed throughout your bedroom to keep things calm and quiet.
Be Mindful of Your Meds
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it might be worth shifting your medication schedule. Everything from antidepressants to ADHD medications to OTC headache cures can interfere with your sleep, so if you’re struggling to sleep, ask your doctor if taking your meds in the morning is an option.
Skip the Smokes
Ending the evening with a cigarette or vape might be the reason you’re having such a hard time getting enough rest. According to the American College of Chest Physicians, smoking is linked with sleep issues, thanks to the withdrawal process your body starts to go through while you sleep. To sleep better, skip the smokes before bed—or, better yet, try to quit them for good as soon as possible.
Make Some Time For Self-Care
Taking some time for yourself at the end of the day can make a major difference in how you sleep. A study published in Experimental Neurobiology suggests that stress can significantly reduce sleep quality and quantity, so add some technology-free activities that help you relax, like reading or taking a bath, to your evening and you might just wake up well-rested for once. And for more ways to live your best life, try these 50 Best Ways to Relax with Your Partner.
Have a Good Laugh
They say laughter is the best medicine, and that’s definitely true when it comes to sleep. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research reveals that laughing increased study subjects’ melatonin production, potentially making it easier to drift off. If you’re in need of some material to laugh at, start with the 50 Knock Knock Jokes Guaranteed to Crack You Up.
Put Down Your Phone
We know: there are a lot of cute animal videos on the internet, and it’s imperative for you to get through them all before you go to sleep. However, putting down your phone will help you sleep better in the long run. A study conducted at the University of Haifa reveals that the blue light emitted from devices like phones reduces sleep duration, so if you want to wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, turn your phone off before bed, or, better yet, keep it out of reach entirely. And for help putting your phone down, learn the 20 Genius Ways to Kill Time without a Smartphone.
Change Your Sheets
Beyoncé probably wasn’t talking about thread counts when she said “let me upgrade ya,” but the sentiment still applies: better sheets and better sleep go hand-in-hand. Trading in those sandpaper-like sheets for something softer may make it easier to get comfortable and drift off.
Skip the Nightcap
Booze has a habit of making people sleepy in the short term. Unfortunately, it’s also going to leave you sleep-deprived in the long run, too. Research published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research reveals that alcohol consumption reduces REM sleep, meaning you’re less likely to wake up feeling refreshed when you get up in the morning. If you do choose to drink, make sure you have your last glass at least a few hours before bed, and follow it up with plenty of water.
Snack on a Banana
Craving a nighttime snack? Make it a banana and you might just enjoy better sleep. In fact, researchers at Airlangga University in Indonesia found that elderly hypertensive patients who added bananas to their routine significantly shortened the amount of time it took to fall asleep.
Kick Your Pets Out of Bed
We get it: you love your pets. However, not everything (or everyone) you love deserves a spot in your bed. According to research from the Mayo Clinic, having dogs in the bed reduced the amount and quality of sleep among study subjects, so kick your furry pal out of your sleep space and starfish on that bed like nature intended.
But Keep Them Close By
While you don’t want your dog in the bed with you, that doesn’t mean they should be cooped up two rooms away while you sleep. The same Mayo Clinic study also suggests that having pets in the room helps people sleep better, thanks to the comfort of knowing their furry friend is nearby.
Few things feel better than stretching at the end of a long day. Better yet, doing so may even help you enjoy more restful sleep. A study published in the Journal of Physiotherapy reveals that stretching before bed significantly reduced nighttime leg cramping, potentially helping you sleep pain-free through the night.
Lower the Lights
Want to hit the hay easier? Hit the lights first. A study published in the Journal of Circadian Rhythms suggests that low lighting can increase melatonin levels, making it easier to fall asleep.
Channeling that inner om is the first step toward a more restful night in bed. Meditating or practicing other mindfulness exercises may help you achieve a feeling of calm that promotes restful sleep. In fact, research published in JAMA Internal Medicine reveals that mindfulness exercises significantly reduced sleep disturbances in a group of older adults.
Of course, if meditation isn’t your thing, there are some more energetic activities that can help you sleep better, too. Dr. Michele Lastella from CQUniversity in Australia reveals that study participants who had sex before bed improved their sleep. However, choose your partner wisely: the whole sex-as-nature’s-Ambien thing only works if you have an orgasm.
The best way to get bleep better? Do the same thing every night before bed. Being a creature of habit might just make you more well-rested in the long run. In fact, research published in Sleep reveals that consistent bedtime routines were significantly linked to improvements in sleep. And when you want to make the most of those waking hours as well, start with the 15 Ways to Double Your Productivity in Half the Time.
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