Sleep is the secret to beauty, smarts and success. But getting a full night’s rest is often a struggle.
That’s why we’ve brought you the 13 best ways to get more quality shut eye, so you can start maximizing the benefits.
1. Set a go-to-bed alarm.
If you regularly promise yourself an early night, then next minute, you’re bleary-eyed three episodes deep into your latest TV series, practice setting an alarm for the evening (and yes, popular vote says 8:30 p.m. is reasonable). Your body loves a routine sleep and wake time — even on weekends.
2. Know the rules of napping.
Need to make up for lost sleep? When done right, a little daytime snooze won’t destroy your nighttime slumber, and it can boost memory, alertness and job performance while you’re at it. Go for 30 minutes max and keep it to pre-3 p.m.
3. Let there be light.
Sounds obvious but between lunchtime meetings and deadlines, spending time outdoors during the day can be hard to do. Fifteen minutes in the sunshine early in the day will stimulate your body and mind, encouraging wakefulness, alertness and energy — which you want to use up before bedtime. Bonus: You’ll get your recommended daily dose of vitamin D.
4. Sensory-proof your bedroom.
You want minimal stimulation for a solid sleep (read: no sights and sounds). Main road traffic and rowdy neighbors? Try using a fan or white noise machine to drown it out. Room lighter than your wallet after a visit to the organic food aisle? Invest in a quality sleep mask. Darkness triggers the release of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. Even if you have the best no-peeping intentions, blue light from a TV screen or computer can interrupt your slumber, so power off completely.
5. Keep your cool.
Temps in the bedroom are a little bit of a Goldilocks situation — they’ve got to be just right. Aim for somewhere between 65 and 70 degrees.
6. Eat dinner when your grandma does.
You should be eating two to four hours before bedtime for your digestive juices to work their magic, especially if consuming carbs. Not to mention, if your stomach is full or you're digesting a big meal, it's hard to fall asleep. Protein, too, can be tough to digest, so if you have to eat late, opt for something light. Bye, beef lasagna.
7. Lay off the caffeine.
You know this one, so just consider this a friendly reminder. If you’re having any trouble sleeping you want to kill any potential culprits. Cut out all caffeine by noon each day and stick with water and caffeine-free herbal teas.
8. Skip the evening workout.
Your blood is pumping, your heart rate is up and your body is generally in "go" mode rather than "slow" mode. These are all the great effects of exercise, except when it’s 9 p.m. It’s true that physical activity can promote deeper sleep, but make sure you schedule the sweat session three to four hours before bedtime, saving the evening for more gentle practices, like yoga or meditation.
9. Try relaxation and deep breathing.
If you find yourself counting sleep, try the Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique instead. How it works is tensing then relaxing the muscles in your body, directing your attention to each as you go. Start with your feet, tightening the muscles for a few seconds, then release. Do this all the way up to your head.
10. Work through your thoughts.
If relaxation tricks don’t cut it, get literal with those racing thoughts and put them on paper in a journal. Dedicate five minutes daily to put pen to paper, processing the day, writing lists and clearing your mental desktop. Then go to bed. If that doesn’t work, you might consider natural sleep supplements. Swisse Ultiboost Sleep is a premium quality formula containing magnesium and herbs, including valerian, which helps to relieve nervous tension and assist natural, restful sleep.*
11. Designate a power down hour.
Here’s the challenge: Dim the lights and turn off all your devices 60 minutes before bedtime. Bright light is one of the biggest triggers to our brains that it’s time to be awake and alert, so start sending the opposite signal early. Dr James Hamblin, journalist at The Atlantic, calls this time “The Amazing Hour.”
12. Operate a sleep- and sex-only zone.
Reading in bed is a form of relaxation, right? Yes...and no. The beauty of a good book is it demands your emotional and intellectual attention, usually more distracting than relaxing. Keep reading to the couch or your favorite armchair and the bed for sleep and sex only.
13. Cut your water supply.
Don’t go dehydrating yourself, but consider limiting your liquid intake a couple of hours before bed, to keep in control of your bladder and save yourself middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.