One bad night — you know, the restless kind where you toss and turn or decide 2 a.m. is the perfect time to Google all of the random questions you’ve had over the last decade — can affect everything from your mood to your productivity.
To make sure you’re at your best each morning and throughout the day, you need more than the minimum number of hours of sleep, you also need high quality sleep each night.
Here are our top 6 tips for getting your best sleep ever.
TRACK YOUR SHUT EYE.
Getting 7-9 hours of sleep is only part of what it takes to ensure a good night’s rest. Because sleep happens in stages, we sleep deeper and lighter during certain times of the night. Waking up in the middle of the deeper stages of sleep (also known as REM sleep) can make you feel groggy in the morning, while getting up during lighter sleep will help you be alert sooner. Consider downloading an app like Sleep Cycle to track your sleep and set an alarm that will wake you during lighter sleep stages.
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE.
The key to falling asleep soon at night is to prepare your body for rest as much as possible. One effective way to do this is to establish a nighttime routine that will program your brain for rest. Start by setting an alarm an hour before bedtime, then wind down by shutting off lights and getting ready for bed. Sticking to the same routine even on weekends will help your body be ready for sleep around the same time every night.
SET THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT.
Just like setting a nighttime routine, creating the right sleep environment will help your brain adjust to sleep sooner. Consider painting your walls a relaxing matte color (like light blue or yellow), and make your bed cozy with a soft comforter and pillows. Studies show that the most comfortable temperature for your bedroom during sleep is between 65 and 72 degrees, so make sure to also avoid letting the room get too warm.
AVOID CERTAIN FOODS.
You probably know to avoid caffeine before bed, but did you know other foods can keep you awake too? Avoiding large meals and sugary foods at least three hours before bedtime will help ensure higher quality rest. If you must have a bedtime snack, opt for dairy products or nuts, which contain amino acids that induce sleep.
PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE.
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, it might be tempting to check Instagram or Twitter to distract yourself. But resist the urge to get on your phone or laptop around bedtime. Studies show that looking at electronic screens even an hour before bed can make it harder to fall asleep. Try reading a book for a few minutes instead until you start to feel tired.
EXERCISE IN THE EVENINGS.
Exercising gives you a natural energy boost and releases healthy hormones that help you sleep deeper in the long run. Physical activity causes an immediate increase in energy and heart rate, so you shouldn’t exercise right before you go to sleep. But research shows that the natural temperature drop that hits several hours after exercise can help you fall asleep quicker when you do head to bed. The most effective strategy is to implement an exercise routine in the afternoon at least three hours before bedtime.