Many people struggle with falling asleep and/or staying asleep through the night. This, of course, can take a serious toll on your mood, emotional state, energy levels, ability to focus, job or school performance, athletic or other physical performance, immune system, overall health, and more.
The following tips to help you sleep better are about improving your "sleep hygiene." In other words, they are habits that make your body more ready to fall asleep and better prepared to sleep soundly and restfully.
How to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep
- Establish a sleep schedule. You can train your body to become tired at a certain time and to wake up at a certain time by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. It's not always easy but stick to a daily bedtime and wake-up time as much as possible.
- Don't use electronics for one to two hours before bed. This, too, is tricky for a lot of people these days, but it's very helpful. The stimulation from phones, computers, TVs, and other electronic devices interferes with your ability to sleep.
- Never sleep with the TV on. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and realized you were dreaming, and the dream was related to what was on the TV? That's because its sound is getting through to you on some level and disturbing your sleep.
- Relax before bed. Instead of using electronic devices in the time leading up to bed, do something that helps you calm down. Read, listen to mellow music, sip some decaffeinated tea, take a hot bath, or find something else that works well for you personally.
- Control stress and anxiety. These are terrible for your sleep hygiene and often cause you to toss and turn all night. Check out all these free ways to reduce stress and anxiety, and put them to work for you and your ability to get good rest.
- Think positively before bed. Even if you're following the advice in the last entry, you may still start obsessing over problems when you're lying there in bed. Use the time leading up to bedtime to focus on happy, positive things in your life.
- Only use your bedroom as a bedroom. It's surprisingly helpful to your ability to fall asleep if you only associate your bedroom with normal bedroom activities. So don't use the room as your home office, family room, library, and so on.
- Lay off the caffeine at night. Lots of people don't think about the fact that the coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, or other things they consume at night contain caffeine, which is, of course, a stimulant that wakes you up. Switch to decaf and otherwise avoid caffeine after dinnertime or even from the afternoon if you're particularly sensitive.
- Make your bedroom dark. Human bodies are programmed to go to sleep in the dark and wake up in the light. Turn off the lights and close your blinds or other window coverings. If you can't get it dark enough, use a sleep mask to block out the light. Also, quiet helps too; try earplugs if there's noise (like a snoring partner) that keeps you up.
- Keep your bedroom comfortable. If you're uncomfortable, you struggle to fall asleep and might wake up repeatedly throughout the night. Keep the temperature where you like it, invest in a comfy mattress and bedding, and address anything else that interferes with your comfort.