A good night’s sleep has an ample array of benefits that can truly change your life. For one, quality sleep reduces one’s chance of heart disease. This is in addition to other quality sleep benefits like improved mood, lower risk of injury, clearer thinking and stronger immunity to disease.
Unfortunately, falling asleep isn’t always as simple as lying down and closing your eyes. Anxiety, irritability and other stresses can cause insomnia.
When confronted with sleep difficulties, there are certain activities you can try to help you sleep through the night and, consequently, be productive the next day.
If you’re tossing and turning instead of sleeping, check out these eight helpful things to do before bed:
1. Set a ‘Go to Sleep Now’ Alarm
Just as you set an alarm to wake up each morning, it can improve sleep habits to set an alarm for bedtime as well. This will help turn a specific bedtime into a habit; for example, the sound of the alarm can deter you from continuing to watch TV or surf the web. Set the alarm for a few weeks and it should eventually turn into a habit.
2. Use Your Own Blanket
If you sleep alongside your partner, using your own blanket — as opposed to attempting to share one — can dramatically improve sleep. Using one blanket has multiple downsides.
“Not only does it make you more aware of your partner’s movements, but it can also amplify the heat — and it can cause arguments when the blanket isn’t evenly spread over both people,” explains Austria-based sleep researcher John Dittami. Separate covers can alleviate these issues.
3. Use a Fan
No matter if one lives in a city or countryside, there will usually be some sort of outside ambiance — whether it’s cars passing by or crickets chirping. A steady, uninterrupted sound is optimal for falling asleep to, which is something that a small fan can provide.
“There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that white noise can be soothing because it blocks out sudden variations in sound — like a barking dog, or a car alarm — that can lighten our sleep or wake us,” explains David N. Neubauer, MD.
4. Do Boring Math
To take your mind off anxieties, it makes sense to perform a task that is mind-consuming yet not exciting enough to keep you aware. Math is precisely this for most people. For example, counting backwards from 400 by 4’s is something boring but challenging enough that’s akin to counting sheep, which can help soothe the mind.
5. Avoid Alcohol in Excess
Anything more than two drinks can severely harm one’s sleep, as the alcohol can cause tossing and turning through the night that results in waking up every few hours that interrupts REM sleep. This lack of sleep contributes to that nasty hungover feeling, as well.
6. Avoid Napping
Hopefully these tips help you set a consistent and healthy bedtime. To maintain that bedtime, it’s crucial to avoid naps. Although it may be tempting to nap after a long day of grogginess, it can be very difficult to awake in those scenarios. Napping can mess up your body’s clock as a result and make it very difficult to fall asleep later that night.
7. Set the Temperature in the Range of 60 to 67 Degrees
Several studies found that the optimal sleeping temperature is within the range of 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Research showed that “sleeping in a hot environment has also been shown to increases wakefulness and decreases slow wave sleep,” while sleeping in a colder environment better promotes deep sleep. Don’t be afraid to blast the AC for a great night’s sleep!
8. Use the Bedroom Only for Sleep and Sex
Avoid using your bedroom as a living space if possible. Reserving it exclusively for sex and sleeping will make it easier to fall asleep because you won’t associate the space with reading books, watching television, or other sleep-prohibitive tasks (and thus incite the urge to do something else other than sleep).
These eight tips should help anyone who has trouble falling asleep. Keep them in mind, and you can enjoy a better night’s sleep and improve your health and daily capabilities as a result.