If you’re having trouble sleeping, but you want to solve your problem without supplements or medication, you may be wondering how to sleep better at night – naturally.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of healthy living for both physical and mental health. How you sleep can be affected by many different factors. Most of what impacts sleep happens during the day and in the hours leading up to bedtime.
When sleep doesn’t come quickly or when you have trouble staying asleep – it can be incredibly frustrating and might leave you thinking, which medication or supplements can help?
In some cases – medications and supplements may be the answer. However, there are several tips you can try to help you sleep better at night – naturally.
Tip 1 – Keep a regular sleep schedule
Most people have a different schedule and routine on the weekend compared to workdays. Weekends often mean a more relaxed schedule with time to sleep in. But, if you sleep later in the morning you will naturally go to bed later because you won’t be tired by your normal bedtime.
Your body needs between 16-18 hours of wakefulness before it transitions to feeling tired and ready for sleep.
Your brain doesn’t recognize the time of day but instead relies on patterns of time with your internal clock – the circadian rhythm. As your typical bedtime approaches, the hormone melatonin is released, leading to feelings of sleepiness.
Therefore, if you wake up two hours later than usual on Sunday morning, and can’t fall asleep in time to get 7-8 hours of sleep before work on Monday morning – this begins a whole cascade of schedule interruption.
Try not to deviate from your sleep schedule by more than an hour to stay on track with your circadian clock and fall asleep at the time you want to sleep.
Tip 2 – Watch your caffeine intake later in the day
Caffeine is great for waking you up in the morning, but if you drink it too late in the day it can affect your sleep. Caffeine begins to take effect from a half-hour to an hour after drinking it and remains in your body until you clear it out of your system. Every individual reacts differently to caffeine and some people have a greater sensitivity than others.
The half-life of caffeine is 5 hours, which means half the caffeine you’ve ingested is still in your system after 5 hours. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests holding off on caffeine at least 6 hours before bed. However, you may find that you need more time to clear caffeine and its effects on your body.
If you have trouble falling asleep at night, before resorting to medication or supplements, try cutting off caffeine earlier in the day to help you fall asleep naturally.
Tip 3 – Shut down screens earlier
Melatonin, a hormone that is released by your brain as night approaches, is what makes you feel tired. The blue light emitted from screens inhibits the release of melatonin. So, the longer you watch tv or scroll through your phone – the longer it will take you to feel the effects of melatonin.
Try shutting down screens about an hour before bedtime to allow your body to release melatonin. This should help you feel sleepy and fall asleep naturally.
Tip 4 – Engage in regular exercise
Exercise has a wide range of benefits and while it’s not completely clear how – research has shown that it helps you sleep better.
One guess as to why moderate aerobic exercise helps with sleep is that exercise is a stress reliever. When you relieve stress, it helps you relax your mind and you can fall asleep more easily.
Many classes at YouFit will help you get the moderate aerobic exercise you need to have a great night of sleep. Look for any classes, such as Zumba, cycling, or HIIT training at your local YouFit gym to get started so you can have a better night of sleep.
Tip 5 – Have a bedtime ritual
It’s difficult to transition from the hectic activity of the day to a calm environment that’s required for sleep. This is the perfect spot for a bedtime ritual that calms your nerves and helps you release the stress of the day.
A bedtime ritual may look different depending on what’s appealing to you. A hot shower or a bath may help relax you. You may like to read, write in a journal, or meditate. No one combination or routine is the correct one – just the one that works best for you.
Experiment with different options and then see which one helps you fall asleep naturally.
Tip 6 – Prepare your Environment for Sleep
Along with a bedtime ritual, having the right environment for a great night of sleep is also important.
The temperature of the room is a key factor when it comes to sleep quality. According to the Cleveland Clinic, your bedroom should be between 60 – 67 degrees Fahrenheit. The right temperature helps you get into and stay in deep sleep, known as REM.
Experiment with a lower temperature if you’re having trouble sleeping at night to see if this helps you sleep better.
Another environmental factor that helps facilitate a better night of sleep is light exposure. Light disrupts the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which makes it difficult to feel tired naturally.
If possible – begin dimming the lights as bedtime approaches and block out any sources of light in your room at bedtime.
Tip 7 – Avoid Large Meals and Sweets before Bedtime
Food provides energy and eating shortly before bedtime can affect your circadian rhythm. When you stimulate your digestive system with food, you signal your body to activate rather than slow down and rest.
This is especially true if you eat sugary food, which rapidly raises your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar level is high before you go to bed it may prevent you from getting into or staying in deep sleep.
Falling asleep naturally has a lot to do with your nutrition. If you don’t take the time to plan and cook healthy meals it can backfire on you when you attempt to sleep at night.
If you struggle with knowing what to cook, then check out Eat Love – a nutrition app that can help you with a personalized nutrition plan. Or if you don’t have time to cook – check out a meal service like Fresh Meal Plan to keep your nutrition in check.
Tip 8 – Avoid Alcohol Before Bed
Alcohol has a similar effect on deep sleep as sugar. Although alcohol can help you fall asleep – it’s deep sleep that is affected. Sleep following alcohol tends to be shallower and is easily disrupted.
If you do plan to drink alcohol at night, give yourself about 3 hours before bedtime as your cut-off time according to Dr. Deirdre Conroy, a sleep expert from the University of Michigan.
There are many factors when it comes to having a great night of sleep. A supplement or medication may be the solution. However, if you’re struggling to sleep well at night – try implementing one change at a time to see if it has an impact. One change may be all that’s needed to help you sleep better at night – naturally.