You can’t always determine your sleep outcome — how much or how well you actually sleep.
Whether it’s kids, shift work, hormonal issues, sleep apnea, or those darn raccoons smashing the garbage cans at 3 a.m., other factors can play a role.
But you can take charge of your sleep routine and control your sleep behaviors,which dramatically improve your chances of good, restful ZZZs.
Be proactive. Good sleep is not an accident.
Here are some things you can try. Experiment with one or more.
Limit your caffeine to the morning with no caffeinated drinks after 2 p.m.
Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your body for 8–10 hours after ingesting it. An afternoon coffee could still leave you tossing and turning at 10 p.m.
Remember that caffeine sources include coffee, black and green tea, colas, energy drinks, yerba mate, and dark chocolate.
Turn off all electronic screens (TV, computer, etc.) an hour before bed.
While you may swear that cruising Facebook or watching late-night reality TV are relaxing, electronic media are actually stimulating.
They rev up our brain and body even if we don’t realize it.
Plus, the light from screens can mess up our circadian clocks.
Keep your bedroom a little cooler.
If you’ve ever experienced a sweaty, sheets-knotted night, you know how difficult — and uncomfortable — it can be to relax and sleep when it’s too warm.
On the other hand, cooler temperatures tell the body it’s hibernation time.
Try some white noise.
If you’re bothered by outside noise, try leaving a fan or humidifier on in your bedroom.
This will create a “white noise” or steady hum that will drown or level out distracting sounds, such as your neighbor deciding to sort his bottles and cans into the recycling bin by the light of the full moon.
Take an Epsom salts bath before bed.
Epsom salts contain magnesium, which calms the body and promotes sleep. This also helps overall recovery and will ease aches and pains. Dump 1–2 cups into your bath and soak.
Experiment with bath temperature. Some folks swear by warm water; others find that cooler water knocks them out better. See what works for you.
What to do today
- Create and use a sleep ritual.
Tell your body and brain it’s time to unwind and power down.
- Choose 1–2 strategies above and use them.
Or come up with your own. Whatever you choose, make sure it calms and relaxes you physically and psychologically.