Nobody wants to deal with sleep problems.
Getting a full night’s sleep is not only important to ensure you’re alert and ready to go the next morning, but it’s also important for your physical and mental health.
Sleep is essential to your overall health, and yet many struggle to get enough sleep at night. Whether it’s due to sleep problems, poor sleeping habits or even your daytime habits (yes, what you do during the day effects how you sleep at night), not being able to fall asleep is a common problem.
Read on to find out why you should make sleep a priority in your life and how to get yourself on a better sleep schedule.
Why Regular Sleep is Important
When you’re asleep, your body undergoes important physical maintenance. During REM sleep (or deep sleep), your body recharges your heart, heals damaged cells and blood vessels, and helps boost your immune system.
It can also ensure you’re more productive and mentally balanced, while reducing anxiety. So you can probably understand why forming good sleep habits and getting good sleep every night is so important, right?
However, 1 out of 5 Americans suffer from sleep disorders, preventing them from falling or staying asleep (sleep loss). This can cause a myriad of other disorders, all stemming from a lack of sufficient 5eep.
If you have sleep problems and struggle to fall asleep at night or find yourself parked in front of the TV or computer until 2 am, there are some helpful tips you can take advantage of to help yourself fall asleep earlier, every night.
9 Tips To Help You Go To Sleep Earlier
You may think you’re a night owl, but once you get on a regular sleep routine, you may change your mind. Here are five tips to help you successfully get to bed earlier.
1. Create an Evening Bedtime Routine
Setting a scheduled bedtime is one of the easiest ways to solve your sleep problems.
This tip won’t work for everyone, especially if you’re constantly working odd hours. However, if you have a predictable job, regular school schedule, or flexibility to manage your own calendar, then take advantage of it by planning your bedtime routine.
The general premise here according to sleep experts, is to set a time to set a specific bedtime and stick to it — even on weekends. Your circadian rhythm thrives on routine and will help ensure you get better REM sleep. You’ll find yourself actually becoming tired at bedtime and your mind will be in sleep mode.
2. Set an Electronic Curfew
Unplugging from electronic devices can help your mind destress and prepare for sleep. You might think you’re relaxing when watching TV or playing a game, but you’re really keeping your mind engaged and active and preventing yourself from getting quality sleep.
If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, research shows that electronics may be to blame. Even if you’re tossing and turning, resist the urge to reach for your phone. The blue light emitted from electronics can actually halt melatonin and prevent your body from falling asleep easily.
3. Ditch Your Alarm Clock
Most of us have alarm clocks on our phone, but some people prefer old fashioned clocks or alarm clocks. If you can read your clock at night, though, it’s more likely to interfere with your sleep.
Have you ever woken up, only to look at the time and realized you only had an hour and a half left to sleep before your alarm went off? This disruption can interfere with your sleep cycle and natural circadian rhythm, and some people may even find it impossible to fall back asleep, getting up earlier than planned, instead.
Instead of looking to the clock and getting anxious about when you have to wake up, remove the temptation altogether. While you shouldn’t look at your phone, if you think you’ll be tempted, plug it in away from the bed, so you’ll need to get up to peek at it.
4. Eat Four Hours Before Bedtime
Eating late at night really can keep you awake. When the stomach is digesting food, it’s harder for your body to understand it’s time to shut down and go to sleep. To avoid this, it’s recommended you have your last meal a minimum of four hours before you go to bed.
This means if your bedtime is 10:30 pm, you should eat dinner at 6:00 pm or earlier to ensure you give your body adequate time to digest. You also need to eliminate late night snacking — even a small snack can impact your sleep cycle.
5. Establish Bedtime Rituals
If you’re dealing with a sleep problem, one of the first things you should think about is your bedtime habit. What are you doing immediately before you lay down?
Creating a pre-bedtime routine can really help your body get in sync and ready for sleep. Doing the same things every night, in the same order can help your body anticipate sleep, helping you fall asleep faster.
Now, everyone has different sleep requirements to “get them in the mood”. But in general, your pre-bedtime rituals should be lowkey and soothing.
Washing your face, showering, taking a bath, and brushing your teeth are standard tasks to add to a routine. You might even want to add calming activities like listening to soothing music, or reading for 15 minutes to the start of your routine. Any type of relaxation technique that puts you at rest should work.
Heck, some people even like to do some relaxing exercises like deep stretching or yoga. And there are some people who just have so much energy throughout the day that they need strenuous nighttime exercises in order to fall asleep.
If it helps you relax, you might want to incorporate it into your bedtime routine.
6. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment
The reason you go to sleep so late might not have anything to do with a sleep problem.
Some people have a tough time going to sleep earlier simply because their environment isn’t set up for a good night’s rest. Everything from the sounds around you to your mattress and pillow impact your sleep environment.
Luckily there are some quick things you can do to fix that. Obviously, invest in a quality mattress and pillows (seriously, don’t skimp out here). Instead of buying a cheap $50 boxspring mattress off Craigslist, find a mattress that fits your sleeping style. Here’s a guide to help.
Second, if you live somewhere noisy like in a major city, invest in some earplugs if you’re not able to drown out the noise. Quietness is a must-have for a good sleep environment.
And for my night owls out there who work overnight and sleep during the day, get yourself a sleep mask to help block out the sun (black-out curtains help too).
Do whatever you need to create a comfortable sleep environment that lets you relax and unwind.
7. Don’t Rely on Sleep Medicine & Other Sleep Aids
As tempting as it might be to get a bottle of sleeping pills and sleep aids, try to avoid it if possible. That is, unless your doctor tells you that you have a severe sleep problem or sleep behavior disorder that requires medication.
The reason being is you don’t want to become dependent on medication in order to get some peaceful slumber.
8. Change Your Wakeup Time
The best cure for your sleep problem could be to change your wake time and morning routine. Some people don’t realize it, but your sleep habits also include what happens when you wake up.
So if you want to go to sleep earlier, you need to wake up earlier as well. Think about it. If you’re waking up at 11:00AM every day, the chances of you being tired enough to go to sleep at 10:00PM are slim since your body has only been awake for less than 12 hours.
So how do you wake up earlier? Well, the same way you set a regular bedtime and sleep routine, you’ll need a regular wake time and morning routine. It might be going for a run first thing in the morning, or showering and early meditation.
The key is just to establish a routine so your body gets in the habit of waking up at a certain time every morning. And of course, it’ll help your body’s sleep rhythm as well since you’re going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day.
9. Nap With Caution
When you’re not sleeping enough at night, your body’s natural reaction is to get sleepy during the day. And of course, that leads to naps.
Naps can be a nice way to recharge your body in the middle of a long grueling day. But be careful! If you’re taking too many naps or napping for too long, it might make your sleep deprivation even worse.
Remember, your body has a natural circadian clock that it wants to follow. Taking a nap in the middle of the day for hours can throw that off.
So how long should you nap? Generally the shorter the better. But according to some sleep research conducted by NASA, 40-minute naps improved alertness 100%.
Say Goodbye to Sleep Deprivation & Hello to the Best Sleep of Your Life
Falling asleep can be stressful for many of us, and sleep deprivation is no joke. But trying to set a regular bedtime and sleep schedule can help your body fall asleep more easily. Try incorporating these tips into your life to sleep better and see if you’re able to finally wake up feeling recharged and renewed.