For something that’s supposed to be an essential daily function, getting to, and staying asleep, can sometimes be a huge pain in your ass… or in your lower back, or your shoulders, or your neck—you know what we mean.
Getting better sleep can change your entire world—from being more productive at work to just being happy to get up and going on the weekend. Some of these might seem obvious, but switching up your routine can get you in bed longer, and waking up better.
1. Regulate your temperature Your body temperature might have a lot to do with the kind of sleep you are—or aren’t—getting. Circadian rhythms exist to help cool us down toward the end of the night and prep our bodies for hitting the hay. This makes sense, it’s nearly impossible to get to sleep in the dead of summer when your A/C is on the fritz, so your internal temperate being too high could certainly prevent you from getting those precious zzz’s.
Avoiding activities that raise your core temperature (Working out, showering, eating large meals.) right before bed can certainly help keep you from overheating. Keeping your bedroom cool by hanging dark curtains and maybe even adding a fan can help, too.
2. Hang up the phone You’ve read it a hundred times by now (probably on your phone, late at night, when sleep eludes you) but it seems to be true—the lights from our phones are interfering with our ability to sleep. That glowing blue as you scroll through Facebook for the 10th time actually suppresses melatonin, that magic hormone that makes you sleep. Your internal clock is cued by light throughout the day, so introducing a new source into your schedule can really throw things off. Leaving your phone out of bed might be the best thing you can do for your sleep! Or, if you aren’t quite ready to break up with your phone, apps like Twilight and Night Shift can alter the color of your screen at night and avoid interrupting your circadian rhythms.
3. Try white noise Maybe you’re the type to fall asleep to The Office (for the fifth time) but if you aren’t, constant interruptions by your neighbors and that highway your realtor convinced you was slow at night might be making you a little crazy. White noise is essentially a frequency that can block out ambient noise, and tons of sleepers find success in letting it absorb the sounds of their environment. Actual white noise can be pretty harsh on the ears—think that scene in any horror movie post-1980 where the TV hits pure static—but there are plenty of options for the same effect. Nature soundscapes, like rain, can do a great job at blocking out distracting noise and blanketing your bedroom in a pleasant, constant hum.
4. Go Feng Shui yourself Feng Shui isn’t just a trend your cousin found on Pinterest and keeps begging you to try—there’s a lot of smart tips to be found in this ancient Chinese art form. The concept consists of laws that govern where and how things are placed for optimal energy flow, and is thought to bring peace to a space.
- Choose rooms toward the back of the house. Moving away from the street can help get you to a quieter spot, and lets less ambient light in.
- Place the head of your bed against a wall, without a window, as this gives a subtle sense of security and takes advantage of our survival instincts for max relaxation. Sleeping under a window can let too much noise, wind, or outside energy in.
- Sleep across from your door. This takes safety into account again, which means there’s less to worry about. You always have full visibility of your bedroom door, which will help you sleeping peacefully.
- Don’t place mirrors in sight of your bed. Our survival instincts make our eyes extremely sensitive to movement, seeing yourself roll over in the middle of the night might wake you up and keep you more alert than you need to be.
- Close windows and doors to avoid outside smells from the street, kitchen or bathrooms.
5. Sleep on your side Research shows that sleeping on your side is the way to get optimal sleep. Side sleepers (about 65% of people) are generally said to have the best alignment because they maintain a pretty neutral spine by keeping their neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips in one continuous shape. Side sleepers also tend to avoid heartburn and digestive issues because they aren’t putting too much pressure on any of their internal organs as they rest. Sleeping exclusively on your back or stomach can cause long-term issues with your spine and neck, so if you find that you’re waking up with back pain, or struggling to get comfortable at night, it might be worth trying.
6. Upgrade your bed Tossing and turning all night because your bed isn’t cutting it makes no sense. You can add a topper, or new sheets, to see if it helps, but if it’s time to replace your mattress, do yourself a favor and do it sooner rather than later.
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