6 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Do you feel tired all day but have a hard time falling asleep at night? This seemingly paradoxical problem is surprisingly common and can be caused by a number of things. Poor eating habits, being in an excessively bright environment after sundown, and drinking caffeine too close to bedtime are just a few of the likely culprits behind your restless nights. Put these six ideas to work for you, and you’ll be feeling better rested in no time.

Stop drinking caffeine six hours before bedtime

If you need to get things done in the evening, you might feel tempted to reach for a cup of coffee to keep you alert. The effects of caffeine last four to six hours, though, so think twice; that evening energy boost might end up disrupting your sleep. With caffeine in your system, you’ll have a harder time falling asleep, and you’ll be more likely to wake up during the night. Opt for a soothing cup of herbal tea in the evening instead.

Eat a light dinner

Traditionally, dinner is the biggest meal of the day, but this might not be good for your sleep. Eating a heavy evening meal can keep you awake later. Falling asleep on a too-full stomach is uncomfortable, and it’s hard to get a restful night’s sleep when your body is busy digesting food all night. Try eating dinner earlier in the evening, or cut down your portion sizes so you don’t feel stuffed when you go to bed. If you’re a nighttime snacker, choose fruit and other light, high-carb foods that are easy to digest.

Set a technology curfew

Did you know that staring at a glowing laptop or tablet before bed can disturb your sleep cycle? It’s true, and it’s not just because of the mental stimulation the gadget provides. The light from your screen tricks your brain into producing less melatonin, the hormone that’s responsible for regulating your sleep cycle. As a result, you have a harder time falling and staying asleep, and you’ll feel more tired the next day. To prevent this from happening, stop using your electronic gadgets an hour or two before bed. If you must use your laptop in the evenings, dim the screen and install an app like F.lux that filters melatonin-suppressing blue light.

Dim your lights

Your computer screen isn’t the only light-related threat to your sleep. The lights in your house could be suppressing your body’s melatonin production too. Electric lights are a relatively new invention, and for thousands of years, the human body has taken darkness as the cue that it’s time to fall asleep. Get in sync with your natural rhythms by dimming your lights before bedtime. Use a dimmer switch if you have one, or switch from your bright overhead lights to a lamp late in the evening.

Establish a bedtime routine

If you stay busy right up until bedtime, your brain won’t know it’s time to shut down. A soothing bedtime routine can have the opposite effect by conditioning your mind to know it’s almost time to fall asleep. Try reading (from a book, not a screen!), taking a warm bath, or listening to quiet music before bed. For the best effect, repeat your routine at the same time every day.

Use a comfortable mattress

If you’re doing everything else right but you’re still having a hard time sleeping, check out your mattress. No matter how relaxed you might be when it’s time to hit the hay, if your mattress is lumpy and uncomfortable, you might toss and turn all night. If your mattress isn’t giving you a good night’s rest, find a different one. Your sleep is crucial to your health and well-being, so a good mattress is worth investing in.

If you’re plagued by insomnia, don’t let it get you down. The solution often is as simple as closing your laptop an hour before bed or making your afternoon cup of coffee a decaf. If none of these ideas work for you, it might be worth seeing a doctor to investigate what’s causing your sleeplessness. A medical professional can help you figure out how you can start getting the rest you need.

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