Nothing can throw you off more than not getting a good night’s sleep. It can make you anxious, irritable, unable to focus, or even sick. Tossing and turning all night is bad enough when it’s a one off, but if you’re struggling to get the recommended eight hours every night, you might need to make a change.
Here are some tips on how to get a better and more restful night’s sleep.
Upgrade your bed and mattress
Sleeping on an old mattress could be the culprit if you’re having trouble sleeping. It is recommended to update your mattress every 5 to 8 years, and if you’re sleeping on an older bed, it could cause discomfort and back pain. When shopping for a new bed, look for one that suits your needs: soft or firm, or even a reclining mattress.
Change your bedroom layout
Believe it or not, even your bedroom decor can affect your sleep. It’s recommended by the National Sleep Foundation to use calm, peaceful colours on your bedroom walls (skip things like bright red or busy prints), to keep the temperature cool and to try and reduce noise. If you live close to a busy street, you might want to try getting a fan or an ambient noise machine to drone out the traffic with more soothing sounds.
Don’t drink caffeine in the evening
Changing your nighttime habits can also help you ensure you’re getting a more restful sleep. If you find you’re wide awake well into the night, you might want to try restricting your caffeine consumption. Studies vary on when you should stop drinking coffee before trying to fall to sleep, but most agree than consuming caffeine up to three hours before going to bed can negatively impact your sleep. Try having a caffeine-free herbal tea for a warm and comforting drink in your evenings.
Stay away from screens and lights
Watching TV, surfing the internet, or even endlessly scrolling on your phone can be another cause of poor sleep habits. Bright lights from the screens can trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, and your computer and phone screens emit a blue light that is especially harmful. It’s best to turn off the TV at least two hours before you plan to head to bed, and try blue-light blocking glasses or apps for your phone.
Set a sleep schedule
Your body has a natural circadian rhythm that tells you when to rise and when to sleep. It’s why you (hopefully) start feeling tired right around when you normally go to bed, or find yourself waking up just a few minutes before your alarm. Sometimes your rhythm gets thrown off, but you can train your body and your brain to get back on track. Try setting yourself a proper schedule of falling asleep and waking up around the same time each day (no raging all-nighters on weekend!) and avoiding any afternoon naps.
Try sleep aids
If you’re still struggling to sleep, an all-natural sleep aid might do the trick. Melatonin supplements are a popular cure to sleep disorders like insomnia, when your body isn’t producing enough melatonin on its own. Taking a small amount of melatonin two hours before bed can help you fall asleep quicker, and sleep more soundly.
See a doctor
If nothing seems to be working, and your trouble sleeping is lasting for weeks at a time, it’s best to see your doctor. Your insomnia could have an underlying cause, like a side effect to medication or even sleep apnea. Your doctor can try different tests, ask you to keep a sleep diary or prescribe a stronger sleep aid to help you get the rest you need.