Your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep at night largely affects the way you feel the next day, which is why getting a good night of sleep is so important. If you think you aren't sleeping well at night, it might be time to take a closer look at ways to fix that.
Here are five tips given by sleep industry experts to help you enjoy a better night's sleep:
1. Create a bedtime ritual
Sometimes it seems like no matter how exhausted you are, you simply can't fall asleep once your head hits the pillow. This is because we often take our stresses and anxieties from the day to bed with us. Fortunately, there's a better way to clear your mind and fall asleep than simply counting sheep.
Creating a relaxing bedtime ritual that you conduct each night before you go to bed can help you prepare your mind and body for a restful sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation says "A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep."
Things like enjoying a cup of herbal tea, listening to calming music and diffusing calming essential oils are all great things you could add to your ritual to create a calming atmosphere.
2. Steer clear of your smartphone
Do you make a habit of checking Facebook before bed? If so, you're certainly not alone. 70 percent of smartphone users ages 18 and above say they sleep with their smartphones next to them. Although this seems harmless, gazing into the glow of your smartphone right before you try to go to bed will counteract your efforts to try to fall asleep once you put the device down.
"People are exposing their eyes to this stream of photons from these objects that basically tells your brain, 'Stay awake! It's not time to go to sleep yet,'" says Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine.
If you're really trying to get a better night's sleep, leave your smartphone on your nightstand once you've laid down. This will help you fully relax and unwind as you go to bed.
3. Focus on the right mattress details
Although purchasing a new mattress is a great first step, many of us focus on the wrong details when it comes to mattress quality and comfort.
A salesperson at your standard brick and mortar mattress store will probably try to sell you on the mattress with the most layers and a cushioned top. Although it feels comfy in the store, the amount of mattress layers won't do you any good if they don't interact well with one another.
"Some people compare densities, foam layers, etc, but most consumers aren't interested in those technicalities. We think it's more about how the layers are put together and interact with each other, and how they balance one another"says Jas Bagniewski, Founder of Eve Mattress.
Do your research to find a mattress that works best for your specific needs. If you're sharing your bed with a spouse, be sure to consider his or her needs as well.
4. Wear your body out before bed
No matter how mentally exhausted you are, it is impossible to get to bed if your body isn't ready. Restless legs and excess energy can keep you up all night even if you feel tired enough to go to bed. This is why exercise plays such an important role in sleep quality.
If you commit to at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, your body will be able to release more of its energy and feel more worn out and ready for sleep by the time you lay down in your bed.
"Physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration. Exercise may also bolster sleep in other ways, because it reduces stress and tires you out" say the sleep experts at Sleep.org.
Even if your routine is as simple as committing to a quick jog during your lunch break or a walk after dinner, regularly exercising will help prepare your body for sleep each night. If you're strapped for time, make sure you check out these tips for making time for exercise.
5. Stick to a schedule
As creatures of habit, humans tend to thrive when we follow routines. This holds especially true when it comes to sleep quality. Creating a schedule for your sleep and sticking to it will help your body establish a healthy sleep cycle.
According to the Mayo Clinic, "Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night."
Find a time that feels comfortable for you to get to bed and try sticking to it for at least a week to start out. Setting a tighter restriction for the first week will help you establish the habit you need to consistently get to bed at the same time in the future. The same goes for your wakeup time!
Sleep troubles can be difficult to crack, but once you find ways that work, you'll be able to finally get the rest you deserve.