A night of tossing and turning is exhausting. But several nights of tossing and turning? That leads to increasing sleep deprivation, which makes your days harder to get through with the focus you want to have. When you’re dragging yourself through the day after bad nights, you want to know how to sleep well at night. Here are our best tips for how to sleep well at night naturally to help you get back to restful sleep.
What’s Preventing a Good Night’s Sleep?
The first step to figuring out how to sleep better is to figure out what’s keeping you from sleeping. There are some pretty common things that could be creeping into your nighttimes that keep you from sleeping:
- Caffeine. Caffeine blocks the chemical messengers in your brain that signal it’s time to sleep. That can be helpful when you’re using a coffee boost in the morning but pretty bad if it’s still in your system when you’re trying to sleep.
- Too warm. Your core body temperature needs to lower a couple of degrees for you to fall asleep, so if you’re too warm, you’ll have trouble getting a good night’s sleep.
- Too much light. Light actually delays your brain’s production of melatonin. When people relied primarily on the sun for light, the brain would produce melatonin, and people wouldn’t be exposed to any excess light. But now with phones, artificial lights in our ceilings, and even bedside lamps, your brain’s production of melatonin regularly gets interrupted.
- Long Naps. While it might feel nice to have a long daytime snooze, it’ll come back to get you at night. Your body will crave sleep a little less and feel a need to stay awake longer after a long nap. So if you take a long nap during the day or even a short nap in the early evening , it might be cutting into your sleep at night.
How to Set Up Good Sleep Habits
One of the most important parts of getting a good night’s sleep is to have good sleep hygiene habits. Practicing certain sleep hygiene practices will help them to become habits—ultimately helping you sleep better at night. These framework elements of your habits will help you shape a good night’s rest:
- Establish a routine. A nightly routine helps remind your body that it’s time to sleep. Those little cues will help you wind down and be fully ready to go to sleep. Your routine might consist of washing your face, brushing your teeth, taking a bath, meditating, reading, and drinking a glass of warm milk. However you wind down, make it a regular routine to signal that it’s bedtime to your body.
- Set up an ideal sleep environment. Your night of sleep is really only as good as your environment. Setting up a space that’s cool and dark and comfortable is crucial to a space that’s conducive to sleep. You don’t want ambient light telling your body it’s time to wake up. You don’t want noises keeping you restless. You don’t want a lumpy mattress keeping you up for hours. By designing your sleep environment right, you’re setting your sleep habits up right.
5 Tips to Sleep Well at Night Naturally
Ready to get started sleeping well again? Here are five tips to sleep well naturally:
- Watch What You Eat and Drink
- Keep in Sync with Your Body
- Avoid Tech
- Learn How to Fall Back Asleep
People who exercise during the day experience less daytime sleepiness and sleep better at night. The more vigorous the exercise, the more sleep benefits you’ll experience. But even a light walk each day will help you sleep better in the long run. Exercising boosts the effects of your body’s natural sleep hormones, which will help you be sleepier at night.
But the key to taking advantage of the benefits of exercise is to watch your timing. Exercising too close to bedtime will actually stimulate your brain and keep you awake. Instead, try to exercise in the morning. Outdoor exercise in the morning will expose you to natural sunlight and help you feel more awake during the day, and the exercise will then help you sleep better that night. Keep in mind that it can take weeks to months to see the benefits of exercise on sleep, so it’s important to establish a regular habit of exercising.
A grumbling stomach can definitely keep you up at night, so eating is important to sleeping well. But you want to watch when you’re eating. An overly full belly at bedtime from a large meal right before bedtime might keep you up at night as your body digests. So if you’re hungry right before bed, opt for an apple or something small that will keep you from being hungry but not keep you up all night.
Eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruit can also help you sleep better at night. Red meat and fatty foods can actually keep you tossing and turning longer than you’d like. In addition, spicy foods can cause heartburn—something that’s definitely not good for restful sleep. Long term healthy food habits promote long term healthy sleep habits.
In addition, what you drink is important too. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages can interfere with your sleep as long as 10 to 12 hours after drinking it. Keep coffee as a morning pick-me-up. Even eating chocolate too close to bed can keep you up. On the other hand, alcohol may help you relax and feel sleepy, but it actually interferes with your sleep cycle after you’re asleep. Skip the nightcap, so you don’t wake up in the night and struggle to fall back asleep.
Your body has a natural circadian rhythm, and getting in sync with it is one of the best ways to get sleeping better. To do this, try to keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every day. Even on weekends, it’s important to keep getting up at the same time each day. While sleeping in may feel nice, it throws off your circadian rhythm—which could make it harder to sleep when you try to go to bed.
One of the most common sleep tips is to avoid your tech devices right before bed, but there’s a reason it’s such common advice. The artificial light from your phone, laptop, or even e-reader reduces the production and effectiveness of melatonin. Even without considering the light problems, electronic devices can also stimulate the brain. Most TV shows, movies, and videogames are all too stimulating for a pre-bedtime activity. Instead, opt for a relaxing activity like meditation or listening to an audiobook.
If you’ve been tossing and turning for hours or if you woke up and can’t go back to sleep, there are a few techniques you can try to learn how to fall asleep again.
- Don’t stay in bed. If you’ve been unable to fall asleep for over 15 minutes, get out of your bed and do something with low stimulation. You might try reading a book with dim lighting for 15–30 minutes. This practice helps your body associate your bed with being asleep, and it can help keep you from getting anxious about being unable to fall asleep.
- Focus on relaxation instead of sleep. Focusing too much on sleep will only keep you awake. But if you instead focus on relaxing your body and mind, you will be in a state that promotes sleep, and you won’t be hyper fixating on your inability to fall asleep. Take a moment to mediate, take deep breaths, visualize, or try progressive muscle relaxation.
- Avoid worrying. The day’s activities can keep you awake at night, so it’s important to practice letting go of that worry when you’re in bed. Try keeping a pad of paper by your bed to write down what’s bothering you and to help you let go of it for now.
These tips can help you sleep better at night and spend less time tossing and turning.
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