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Tips to Improve the Quality and Quantity of Your Sleep
Sleep is one of the most vital necessities in life. Despite it's importance, many of us still don't get enough sleep each night. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, we need between 7-8 hours of sleep a night. That's actual sleep! Not laying in bed reading or scrolling through Facebook, but actual, good, solid shut-eye. Now I'm not sure about you, but between my job, family, school, and plenty of other things, I definitely don't get a solid 7 or 8 hours of sleep. I think if I'm lucky I may get 5, possibly 6 good hours of sleep.
Recently I've been trying to change that though and really focus on my sleep and bedtime routine. Read on to find out how I have been able to increase the amount of sleep I get each night.
Get up and go to bed at the same time every day.
Our bodies get accustomed to a routine over time, so setting your alarm to get up each day at the same time will start become natural and easier over time. For most people, getting to bed at the same time each night seems to be the more difficult part of this equation, so do your best to plan ahead to ensure you make getting to bed on time a priority. A few things you can do to help with this are:
- Set an alarm to alert you that you have 30 minutes before you need to get to bed. This will give you ample time to do anything you need to do as part of your bedtime routine.
- Put your lights on a timer to coincide with the alarm you set. I have the Philips Hue Lighting System in my living room and have set a timer to have the lights begin dimming at 9:00 pm through the week. They will completely turn off at 9:30 pm, which is the time I try to be in bed by.
- Set your DVR to record shows that you want to stay up late to watch so you can watch them later.
Make your bedroom a relaxing space.
Your bedroom should be a quiet, dark, relaxing space that promotes good sleep. There are a few general components of a sleep-promoting bedroom that you should try to instill in your own bedroom:
- No light should be coming in at night. If you have a bright light outside of your bedroom window, try pairing some blackout curtains with some bamboo shades that will not only keep the light out, but will look visually appealing during the daytime.
- No tv. This is a difficult one for many of us, but in order to really promote relaxation, tvs, computers, music, etc… should be removed from the bedroom. While some may argue that these items can promote relaxation, they actually stimulate your brain to a point where sleeping may become difficult.
- Put lights on a dimmer in the bedroom so when you are getting ready for bed, you don't have to turn on the overhead lights to their brightest point. The Philips Hue Lighting System is a great tool to use for this.
Avoid large meals and caffeine before bed.
I think it goes without saying that caffeine before bed just isn't a good idea. Sure, some people swear that they can have a cup of coffee before bed and sleep like a rock. That may be true for a select few people out there, but despite being able to sleep after that cup of coffee, the effects of the stimulant on your body are still taking place, so the quality of your sleep may not be as good as what you thought, meaning you'll still feel tired when you wake up. The general suggestion is to not consume caffeine after lunchtime in order to promote restful sleep.
Additionally, eating a large meal before you go to bed can make it difficult to sleep and can cause indigestion. It can take a few hours for our bodies to digest a large meal, so one should aim to eat dinner around 5-6pm if going to bed somewhere around 9-10pm. If you find that you're hungry before bed, it's still fine to have a small snack, such as a banana or some cheese, but make sure to limit the portion size and that your snack of choice isn't spicy as it could lead to heartburn. You could also try some caffeine free herbal tea before bed to tide over your appetite. Another perk of this is it can actually help you sleep!
Take a warm bath before bed.
If it's been a really long day and you are having trouble unwinding, take a bath about an hour before bed. Taking a warm bath can help you relax before bed, and it can also promote better sleep. When you take a warm bath, your body temperate can raise slightly. When you then get out of the bathtub, your body temperature can drop slightly which can in turn make you sleepy. Not to mention, if you light candles in the bathroom or use lavender bath bombs, you will be helping your case since lavender has been linked to increased sleep quality and can be a helpful part of a bedtime routine.
Tried everything above and still can't sleep?
Sometimes it seems that you've tried everything, but nothing works. As with anything else, practice makes perfect. Don't expect to do one of these things tonight and get instant results. Try all of the above every night for at least a week. By then, you should be starting to establish a routine and can expect to see some improvements in the quality of your sleep.
If you're still having problems sleeping, below are a couple of additional tips that may help:
- Wear a sleep mask just to make sure you're not exposed to any light.
- Journal before bed. Doing a brain dump before bed can help your mind from swirling when it should be at rest.
- Use a mindfulness or meditation app. There are several apps available that will guide you through relaxation and meditation activities to help you get in a relaxed state.
- Use a sound machine or sound app if you need to drown out sound. If you live by a busy road, train tracks, or even in a dorm or apartment building, it can sometimes be difficult to sleep with noises happening that are outside of your control. A sound machine or sound app can help bring in a familiar, constant sound that can drown out other noises making it easier for you to sleep.
- Track your daily habits and sleep quality in a sleep diary. If you're unable to see any noticeable trends or things that stand out as a reason you may not be able to sleep well, share your sleep diary with your doctor to discuss what other options you have. Sometimes there could be a medical reason to account for poor sleep quality and consulting with your doctor is the only way to address what's really going on.
Want a jump start on improving your sleep habits? Enter to win the Better Sleep Prize Package!
You may complete all of the activities below to enter up to 10 times! Plus, you can come back every day to tweet about the giveaway for an extra chance to win!
- $10 Target Gift Card
- Throw Blanket
- Lavender Bath Bombs
- Journal/Coloring Book & Pen
- and more!