Do you ever have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night? You’re not alone. Forty-eight percent of Americans report occasional sleep problems, and 13 percent say they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep. Even if you just occasionally have a tough time drifting off, these simple tricks can help you get to sleep—and stay asleep.
Eat for z’s. “Foods that are rich in vitamin B6 are vital to a healthy night’s sleep because B6 helps the body produce the sleep hormone melatonin,” says Brooke Alpert, registered dietitian and founder of B Nutritious. Find it in foods like fish, lentils, beans, red meat, and brown rice.
Exercise daily. Physical activity makes you tired and reduces stress. As a result, it improves sleep quality and increases the amount of time you’re likely to sleep. When is the best time to exercise? Early morning and afternoon activity may reset your sleep-wake cycle by raising body temperature, then allowing it to drop and trigger sleepiness a few hours later. But if you prefer to work out in the evening or before bedtime, go ahead. It turns out that exercising at night doesn’t affect everyone’s sleep—it really depends on the individual.
Make bedtime a priority. People who were motivated to get a good night’s sleep reported longer sleep and fewer wakeful periods during the night. Make sleep a priority by creating a relaxing pre-bed ritual for yourself, like listening to soothing music or reading a magazine. Also, try to stick to a sleep schedule—even on the weekends, when you may be tempted to stay up late and sleep in the next morning.
Shower at night. Standing under the spray may help you wake up in the morning, but bathing before bed may also actually help you sleep better. The reason? After you finish taking a warm bath or shower, the quick drop in your temperature relaxes your body and helps you sleep more deeply.
Be cool. Keep your bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. Sleeping in a hot room disrupts your sleep, so use an air conditioner or fan to keep your environment cool and comfortable.
Avoid screen glare. Electronic devices like smartphones, TVs, and tablets make it harder for you to drift off because they emit blue light, which suppresses melatonin (the hormone that helps you sleep). Aim to turn them off 90 minutes before going to bed so they don’t mess with your slumber.
Create a soothing environment. Take computers, work materials, and televisions out of your bedroom or sleeping area. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, remove it from your bedtime routine.
Nix the nightcap. While a glass or two of wine may make you feel sleepy and relaxed, alcohol disrupts your sleep patterns when you imbibe less than two hours before bed. Keep the cocktails to early evening to avoid tossing and turning—and getting up to use the bathroom—in the middle of the night.