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By Kara Traasdahl

Six of the best kept secrets for better sleep

You reach for your phone to find that it's early in the morning and you still can't fall asleep. It's just a few short hours until your alarm goes and you will have to wake up bright and early for your full day of work or school. You know exactly how exhausted and zombie-like you'll feel throughout the day from your lack of sleep.

Not getting enough rest is likely not a one-time thing in your life, it's a reoccurring event. You have gotten to the point where you dread because you know that you will always have a hard time falling asleep.

Does this sound familiar to any of you?

According to Consumer Reports, 27% of people have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep most nights. Here are six suggestions to help you get a more restful night of sleep.

1. Get into a good sleep routine
Find a consistent time to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning. This may be difficult to adjust to at first, but having a routine makes sleeping a million times easier. Your circadian rhythm is another term for your personal body clock. By going to bed consistently at the same time and waking up at the same time, your circadian rhythm stabilizes. This results in feeling tired at the same time every night.

2. Eliminate screen time one hour before going to bed
Turn off any screens like your cell phone, laptop and TV. Screen time at night causes cognitive stimulation that keeps you from falling asleep. Blue light from a screen mimics daylight, and the exposure to it stimulates you. Checking your email for work before going to bed can also cause an increase in stress, which can delay falling to sleep and cause you to wake up feeling depressed, tired or anxious.

3. Read a book before you sleep
Pick up a book and read before you go to bed rather than looking at a screen. Just be careful about not reading a book on a tablet before bed because it causes stimulation. Reading before bed is known to improve cognitive function. Creating a reading ritual can not only prepare your mind and body for sleep, consistent readers have been shown to perform better on tests than non-readers. Reading before bed can also improve mental health in mild and moderate cases of depression and anxiety.

3. Take a bath
The temperature of your body starts dropping at night. Taking a bath two hours before shut-eye raises your temperature by a few degrees. The steep and rapid cool down after the bath relaxes you and will most likely put you in a deep sleep. Don't take a bath right before bedtime because the rise in temperature will keep you awake.

4. Use candles and dim the lights
Bright lights in your house mimic the sunlight and can make your body believe that it is still daytime. Dimming the lights is an excellent way to avoid light stimulation, while lighting candles have a relaxing and calming effect before bed. Scented candles in particular can help create a relaxing environment, not to mention reduce your power bill.

5. Find the right pajamas
In general, most people don't put a lot of thought into their pajamas. It's the final decision at the end of a long day and we usually throw on whatever we can find to sleep in. Find pajamas that are loose, comfortable, and lightweight. Cotton pajamas are one of the top picks because they enable your skin to breath without irritation. If cotton pajamas don't work for you, then silk and bamboo fabrics can be used as well. Your pajamas could also change depending on the season, with flannel being worn during colder winter months.

6. Writing in your journal
People who can't fall asleep at night are usually fretting and worrying excessively at bedtime. Anxiety before bed winds you up rather than allowing you to wind down. Writing in your journal about positive experiences helps to redirect your mind and be grateful for what you have. Focus on the good things in life by writing them down on paper.

Life is meant to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. This can be difficult if you aren't getting enough sleep. Hopefully, these tips will improve your nightly slumber.

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