Trouble sleeping? Tossing and turning and counting infinite sheep? You’re far from alone. Research suggests more than half of adults around the world are getting less sleep than they need; a full 51% are struggling with how to sleep well.
Globally, adults average just 6.8 hours of sleep per night during the week — significantly less than the recommended eight or more.
An epidemic of “busyness” has fueled the insomnia problem, with racing minds and an endless list of worries keeping people wide awake and messing with sleep cycles. Add jam-packed schedules, anxiety and too much screen time and caffeine to the list, and modern society is a recipe for sleeplessness!
But hope is not lost. How to sleep better at night is a skill — and there are many techniques you can employ to make sure you get all the Zzzzzzs you need.
Stay tuned for why the sleep cycle is so important, 10 ways to sleep better, and all the info you need on how to sleep better at night and wake up feeling refreshed and so ready to dominate your day.
While modern society may lead us to believe that sleep is a luxury, it’s actually one of our most pressing biological needs. Here’s what happens when we sleep:
The consequences of not getting enough sleep are pretty scary.
According to Harvard Health, sleeplessness affects judgment, mood, the ability to learn and retain information, and can even increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the U.S. alone, 6,000 people die in drowsy driving-related crashes each year; falling asleep at the wheel or at work is no joke.
In the long term, “chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.” When your body is deprived of all the restorative processes that happen during sleep, it suffers and you lose quality of life. That’s why figuring out how to sleep well is so important.
There are many easily-implementable ways to sleep better and fall asleep fast that will drastically impact your sleep hygiene and quality! The 10 ways to sleep better include:
Tempting though it may be to stay up and watch streaming TV until the wee hours, one of the keys of how to sleep better at night is going to bed at roughly the same time every evening — and waking up at the same time every day. We know, sleeping in on weekends is pretty awesome, but it’s even more awesome to have outstanding sleep every day of the week. One study found that an irregular sleep-wake cycle was associated with daytime sleepiness, attention problems, poor sleep and more. Pick a time that works for you and do your best to stick to it.
Everyone knows exercise is good for both mind and body — but it’s also one of the ways to sleep better. 30 minutes (or more) of moderate aerobic exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. Try running, cycling, swimming, hiking, fast walking, dancing, or hitting the elliptical at the gym. Just make sure your heart rate is elevated — and don’t exercise too close to bedtime or those feel-good endorphins could keep you awake.
Artificial light tricks your body into thinking it’s still daytime, so it can negatively affect your sleep cycle. Try to avoid screens of any kind at least two hours before bed. Blue light (the kind that’s emitted from smartphones and computers) is particularly problematic. Luckily, phones and computers have settings and apps that allow you to turn off the blue light if you need to use your screens close to bedtime. On an iPhone or iPad, there’s a feature (under display settings) called Night Shift that turns down the blue light. Some Android devices also offer a Blue Light on/off feature — or you can get an app like Blue Light Filter, Blue Light Filter for Eye Care, or f.lux, which you can install on your Mac or Windows computer. You can even schedule it to turn on automatically a couple hours before bed. How to sleep well? Cut back that blue light!
While you may enjoy breakfast in bed every once in awhile, in general it’s best to keep that sleep space reserved for the two s’s: sleep and sex. If you use your bed for other activities, it’s your body can associate it as a place of leisure instead of rest. If you can’t sleep, get up and move to a different space instead of tossing and turning. That way, you’ll train your body how to sleep well when your head hits that cushy pillow.
Your body can’t switch from wide awake to sleep in seconds — it needs a little R&R time. So make sure you’re setting aside some time before bed to wind down and calm your nervous system. Do some gentle stretching or yoga, drink some bedtime tea, read a book, or listen to some soothing music. Create a routine for yourself so your body knows it’s getting ready for sleep.
In addition to an array of benefits like better heart health, improved relationships, sharper focus and enhanced creativity, meditation is also one of the best ways to sleep better. SOS Method’s unique Concept Meditation formula helps stop the incessant parade of thoughts and anxieties, giving you warm tingles and helping you drift away. SOS Method has a library of Concept Meditations that are designed to lull you into dreamland, no effort required. Just get into bed and open your app. Try the Better Sleep program — it’s a Mind/Body Development tool that will train your system for tranquil, restorative sleep. And next time insomnia strikes, press play on Tranquility A or B, Serenity A or B or Soothe A or B; they’ll lead you straight into sweet dreams.
Any drug that impacts your nervous system can interfere with sleep. Caffeine is an obvious one as it’s known for keeping you awake, but nicotine and alcohol can also wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Not to say you shouldn’t enjoy a glass of champagne every now and then, but keep tabs on how alcohol consumption may affect your sleep, and consume with care! Take stock of your body’s individual reaction and try to steer clear of substances too close to bedtime.
Your circadian rhythm, or your internal clock, tells your body when to be awake and when to sleep. Exposing yourself to bright sun during daylight hours can help your body wind down and learn how to sleep well when it’s dark outside later. One study found that getting some sun led to better sleep quality and length — plus it cut the time it took to fall asleep by 83%. If you can’t get natural sun, consider a light therapy device. They replicate the effects of sunlight and can even help to boost your mood.
Naps can be a pleasant indulgence, but they can also interfere with your sleep cycle. Sleeping when it’s light outside can mess with that circadian rhythm we mentioned, so it’s better to skip the daytime dreaming and save sleep for nighttime hours. One study even found that daytime naps made people sleepier during the daytime hours — and who needs to feel drowsy and doze off during the workday?
When it comes to ways to sleep better, environmental factors like temperature, light and noise are significant influences. One study found that reducing noise and light led to better sleep quality among new mothers. Temperature is all about personal comfort, but make sure you have air conditioning, heat or whatever you need to keep your room comfortable so you can fall asleep fast. If you tend to sleep hot, try a cooling sheet set. To reduce light, get blackout or light blocking shades for your windows, and consider a white noise machine (or app) to cut down on noise issues.
There you have it! 10 ways to sleep better, fall asleep fast and get the most out of that sleep cycle so you can maximize your full potential and be the best version of yourself each and every day. Put these tips to work and you’ll be an expert on how to sleep well in no time!
Do you have any sleep cycle tips to share or thoughts about this post? Let us know in the comments!