12 Tips for Healthy Sleep*

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule

We’re creatures of habit and we should strive to keep our sleep schedule more or less the same everyday. This means weekends too! Sleeping in late on the weekends only interrupts the pattern we’ve spent the week nailing down, making waking up on Monday morning hard. Schedule your sleep schedule and stick to it. 

2. Don’t exercise too late in the day 

Exercise is always strongly encouraged and can help with sleep, however, we should try to time in our exercise routine no later than 2-3 hours before bed. 

3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine

Keeping it plain and simple: caffeine (including coffee, colas, certain teas, and chocolate) and nicotine are stimulants. Even consuming these in the afternoon can have an effect on your sleep. Nicotine, in particular, while it’s a mild stimulant compared to caffeine, will often wake up smokers earlier than they would naturally, due to the nicotine withdrawal. 

4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed 

If alcohol is present in your system before going to bed, it will interrupt your REM sleep, keeping you in the lighter stages of sleep. 

5. Avoid larger meals and beverages late at night 

Heavy meals can cause digestive issues, which will interfere with sleep. Also, drinking too many fluids can cause frequent trips to the bathroom. So keep both light! 

6. Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep (if possible)

A handful of commonly prescribed heart and blood medications can disrupt your sleep patterns if taken before bed. If you find yourself having trouble sleeping, it is recommended you speak to your doctor to see if any of the drugs you’re taking are contributing to sleep issues. Even over-the-counter drugs can have deleterious effects on your sleep.

7. Don’t nap after 3 pm

Although naps can be a great pick-me-up, taking them too late in the day can make it hard to fall asleep at night. 

8. Make sure to leave time to unwind before bed

Scheduling in time to relax before bed is a great way to prep your body to unwind before falling to sleep. 

9. Take a hot bath before bed 

A good way to unwind before bed is by taking a nice hot bath. The resulting drop in body temperature may help you to feel sleepy. 

10. Gadget-free bedroom 

Cell phones, TVs and computers can be a major distraction if used before bed. The light they emit, especially the blue light, suppresses the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep/wake cycle which increases in the evening. 

Individuals who have insomnia clock watch, so turn the clocks face out of view so you don’t worry about the time when you are trying to fall asleep.

11. Get the right sunlight exposure 

Sun exposure during the day helps to regulate sleeping patterns. It’s recommended to soak in the sun at least 30 minutes a day. 

12.Don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep

If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed for more than 20 minutes, it’s recommended to get up and do something else until you feel sleepy, like reading a book. 

*Taken from Matthew Walkers book Why We Sleep.