How to Sleep Better

“Sleep more” isn’t exactly helpful advice. Here are a few specific ways I do recommend trying to adjust your schedule to get better sleep.

  • No screens at night. Blue light from screens inhibits your melatonin production, which makes it harder to get to sleep. Including your phone.

  • Exercise, but not right before bed.People who exercise sleep better, but if you do it right before bed your body temperature and heart rate will still be up.

  • Sleep in a cold room. Your core temperature drops when you sleep. Sleeping in a cold room helps that process.

  • Take a hot bath or shower. When you take a hot bath, blood rises closer to the surface of your skin. Once you’re out of the bath, that makes it easier to release heat and actually lower your body temperature.

  • Avoid sleeping pills. Sleeping pills don’t put you to sleep. They make you unconscious. Sleeping pills limit your deep NREM sleep and REM sleep, so you aren’t actually getting the rest you need.

  • Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol inhibits deep NREM sleep and REM sleep, so you won’t actually get rested.

  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon. Caffeine has a half life of 5-6 hours, meaning that it takes that long for your body to process just one half of the amount you took in. If you drink coffee in the afternoon, it will still be affecting you at night.

  • Maintain a consistent schedule. Your body likes routines. If you wake up and go to sleep at roughly the same time each day, you’ll find it easier to sleep.

  • Mood lighting. Dim the lights before bed to facilitate melatonin production.

  • Keep the room dark. Blackout curtains or a sleep mask are the way to go, so that the sun doesn’t wake you up too early.

  • Essential Oils. Research has shown that some essential oils can help calm the mind, relax you and give you a better sleep. Lavender is one. Add a few drops to a diffuser in your bedroom, or to your bath. You can also apply it on your skin (remember to dilute it first as pure essential oil is very strong).

  • Get an alarm clock. Phones are designed to prompt your response. There may be rings, alerts, alarms, or lights that catch your attention, but even in sleep- or flight mode your subconscious mind is aware of your phone being next to you, which will effect your deep sleep. Leave your phone in another room during the night, this makes it easier to avoid prolonged use when you should be transitioning to sleep. It also prevents compulsive checking should you wake in the night.

If you’re having trouble or things feel overwhelming, check your sleep. It’s a subtle cause that may have flown under the radar.