I love sleep. I think it’d be hard to find anyone who can enthusiastically (and truthfully) say that they don’t enjoy a good night’s rest, but many people accidentally sabotage their sleep schedules without realizing it.
As a sleep superfan, I’ve spent the last few years keeping an eye on my sleeping habits and looking for ways to optimize my Zzz’s. But why bother?
Establishing a consistent routine and good sleep habits means that I no longer need caffeine, am able to wake up naturally without an alarm (usually before 6:30AM), and have consistent energy throughout the day.
Pardon the pun, but it’s a night-and-day difference to how I used to feel – struggling to stay awake, bleary-eyed all morning, and relying on multiple coffees in a day just to function. I was miserable, and exhausted.
If the latter description sounds a little too familiar, here are my tips to getting your best night of sleep yet!
12 Steps to Healthy Sleeping Habits
1 | Make a note of your current sleeping routine.
How much sleep do you get, really? When do you get sleepy, and when do you wake up if you don’t set an alarm? What do you do before bed?
These are all important questions to answer before you start making changes. If you find that you’re sleepy at 11PM but don’t get to bed until 2AM (and then sleep until 10 the next day), it might be time to look at what’s keeping you up.
What works for me might not work for you, so it’s important to make changes based on what’s right for you.
2 | Get up at the same time every day – even weekends. If you want to be a morning person (and aren’t already), get there gradually.
Not everyone wants to be (or is meant to be) a morning person, but I happen to love mornings. That wasn’t always the case, but I started “becoming” a morning person while in college.
It started by establishing a set wake time. Regardless of the day or how late I was out the night before, I had to be up and out of bed by that time. I allowed myself short afternoon naps while I was adjusting, and it wasn’t long before I was comfortably waking up around 7:30AM every day. Now I’m usually able to wake up by 6:30AM (or 7AM on weekends) without an alarm clock.
Establishing a consistent sleep and wake time is the single most important thing at getting a good night’s sleep: it provides a consistent structure for your body and allows it to maximize the restorative process of sleep.
3 | Get outside during the daytime.
Sunshine and daylight signal to your body that it should be awake, so it’s helpful to spend a little extra time outside.
This is especially important while you’re adjusting your sleep schedule to be more consistent and might be fighting an oncoming carb coma following lunch.
4 | Avoid caffeine after 3PM.
We’ve all had days where the afternoon feels like it’s just not going to happen without coffee. Do what you can to avoid any caffeine after 3PM, or you might find yourself struggling to fall asleep later on.
Once you establish a typical sleeping routine, you’ll probably find that you don’t need caffeine at all. I rarely have caffeine, and when I do it’s usually a treat with friends rather than something I “need” to get through my day.
5 | Make the most of naps – the power nap is the best!
I love a good nap, but limit them to 30 minutes. Any more than that leaves me feeling sleepy and out of it for the rest of the day.
I usually only need a nap on a day when my sleep was restricted – either because of a late night with friends or an early call time, for example. That said, it’s my favorite way to rejuvenate midday.
6 | Practice meditation or mindfulness – just for a few minutes each day.
My best days are often the ones that begin and end with a few minutes of mindfulness. Do what you can to sit quietly, focus on your breathing for a few minutes, and allow your thoughts to settle.
I once heard a great tip for meditation: “Do it for less time than you think you’re able to.”
Meaning, if you think you can sit for 10 minutes, do it for five. It’ll fly by, but you’ll still reap the benefits.
7 | Establish a consistent bedtime, and do your best to stick to it.
In an ideal day, I’m in bed by 10:30PM. It’s what I’ve found is my most natural timing – I’m sleepy by 10 after a long and busy day. While I can stretch a bit over, I know doing so will result in my feeling tired the next day.
To set a consistent bedtime, look at your current sleep habits, and identify your ideal sleep and wake times. Align the two gradually – go to bed 30 minutes earlier for a few days, and see how you feel.
8 | Keep your (bedroom) cool.
There’s nothing better than snuggling into a warm bed with a cool breeze coming in through the window.
Keeping your bedroom between 60 and 67 degrees will optimize your sleep and keep you from tossing and turning in the middle of the night.
9 | Invest in your bed: get a good mattress and quality linens and pillowcases.
You’ve probably heard this stat in mattress commercials, but it’s true: we do spend 1/3 of our life in bed, so it’s worth investing in something decent. This means something different for everyone, so try a few options and see what works best for you.
I’ve heard great things about Casper mattresses, so that might be worth a try if you’re on the market.
Also, get pillows that allow you to sleep on your back – it’s the best sleeping position for your body.
10 | No electronics in the bedroom – and definitely not in bed.
I charge my phone in my room, but I use the outlet that’s farthest from my bed. That way, my phone is out of mind once it’s plugged in for the night. No “one last check for new emails” here!
If you have to use your computer before bed, try downloading an app like f.lux that adjusts the bright light of your computer in sync with the natural light levels in your location. It will help reduce the blue-light glare and let your body know it’s getting late.
11 | Reserve your time in bed only for sleep or for intimacy.
If your body thinks that getting into bed means its time to pay the bills, then something is off.
Do whatever you can to reserve your bed (and ideally, your bedroom) only for what it’s meant for – and avoid using it as a catch-all spot for work or your To-Do list.
12 | Use a pillow mist or aromatherapy oil if you’re having trouble falling asleep.
I keep this lavender & chamomile spray next to my bed for the rare night when I’m struggling to fall asleep. A few spritzes, and I’m out!
You can also make your own spray with essential oils using this DIY. This would be a cute gift for any expecting moms (just be sure to use well-sourced and organic oils!).
I’d love to know what you think: have you tried any of these tips? What’s your biggest struggle with getting a good night’s rest? Let me know in the comments.
Image via Duneha