How to Sleep Better at Night: 10 Healthy Sleep Habits
May 1, 2020 | Healthy Aging
Hannah Kaye, MSW, LCSW, a Behavioral Health Specialist at our Triad, NC practices breaks down 10 healthy sleep habits to help you sleep better at night.
In addition to good health behaviors like exercise and healthy diets, sleep is a crucial, yet often overlooked aspect of health. Sleep is crucial to our overall physical and mental wellbeing, although it’s of course, just one part of the process. A good night’s sleep relies on a consistent routine to help you wind down, which is why we’ve put together 10 tips for how to sleep better at night naturally.
The Case for Healthy Sleep Habits
A 2016 study from the CDC found that one in three American adults don’t get enough sleep, missing the recommended mark of seven hours per night. When we don’t practice good sleep habits, that leaves us at a higher risk of developing chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, mental distress, and more.
In this case, adults need sleep training in some form in order to adjust their body to wind down to prepare for sleep. In this article, we will discuss ten of the best tips for a good night’s sleep. As with any life or routine adjustment, it is important to remain patient and consistent with your efforts. You don’t have to implement all ten tips at once, but do try to find the tips that work best for you. Gradually, try to implement them into your bedtime routine to sleep better at night.
How to Sleep Better: 10 Healthy Sleep Habits
Tip #1: Consistency is Key
An essential tip to develop healthy sleep habits is to go to bed at the same time every night on weekdays, weekends, etc. In tandem with going to bed consistently is waking up at the same time every morning; this should be seven to eight hours after you go to bed.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your circadian rhythm, the natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. We know some of you reading might be late-night party animals, but for consistently good sleep, waking up and going to bed at the same time does wonders for your sleep quality.
Tip #2: Get Up and Try Again.
Sleep is also somewhat of a mental battle, and it is important that your body and brain associate being in bed with being sleepy. If you find yourself unable to sleep, staying in bed for long periods of time may actually make it much harder for you to fall asleep.
If you estimate it’s been about 15-20 minutes, get out of bed and do something calming and relaxing. Try reading, listening to music or writing. But, do not watch the clock as this can add to the discomfort of being unable to fall asleep. We recommended putting together a “boredom basket” of things you can do if you are having trouble falling asleep.
Tip #3: Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine
This healthy sleep tip is important as many enjoy a nice cup of hot tea or coffee before bed. Both caffeine and nicotine activate your central nervous system and can keep you awake. Avoid caffeine and nicotine roughly four to six hours before you want to go to bed.
Of course, decaffeinated alternatives are fine. There are many teas that can even help to promote sleep, however, even those may contain trace amounts of caffeine. For a good night’s sleep, avoid those drinks, and substitute them for a glass of water.
Tip #4: Aim For No Naps!
If you’re looking for how to get better sleep, you need to train your body to sleep at certain times. Naps get in the way. While it can certainly be hard to avoid naps, try to limit your nap to under an hour.
Limiting the time of your naps reduces how much time you spend in deep sleep, which won’t throw off your circadian rhythm as much. Yet, eliminating naps is perhaps the best way to adjust your circadian rhythm so you can sleep at night.
Tip #5: Sleep Routine
If you ever took care of a young child, you may understand the importance of a sleep routine. For a child, it’s a bath, a book, and then going to bed. Even sleep routines are good for adults! They can be a great way to train your brain and body to recognize when it is time to wind down for bed.
When beginning your sleep routine, make sure you start about 30 minutes to an hour before your bedtime. This will give you ample time to wind down before going to sleep. Sleep routines are one of many healthy sleep habits to train your mind and body for a good night’s rest.
Tip #6: Warm Baths
Everyone loves a warm bath, especially around bedtime. A warm bath one to two hours before bed can be a great part of your bedtime routine.
A bath will raise your body temperature. Then, as your body temperature drops over the next couple of hours, you will feel more tired. Research shows sleepiness is associated with a nighttime drop in body temperature.
Tip #7: Your Bedroom
For healthy sleep habits, the environment is everything. Before you go to bed, make sure you create an atmosphere that induces quality sleep. Keep your bedroom dark and cool, but with blankets in case you get cold.
It’s generally recommended people keep their TV off. However, if the white noise helps you to sleep, turn your TV to the side so the glow does not bother you. This is important as the light from TVs disrupt sleep cycles. That leads us into another sleep tip to sleep better at night naturally.
Tip #8: Blue Light vs Red Light
As mentioned above, light from TVs can actually throw off your circadian rhythm. However, it’s not limited to the light from TVs, but all electronic devices. These devices emit blue light, which in high exposure can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Blue or cool lights stimulate your brain to wake up, like the time before the world had electricity and people woke when they saw the rising sun. At night, you want to make sure any electronics use red-light apps like f.lux to limit your exposure to blue spectrum light.
Tip #9: Clear Your Mind
Overthinking is a major obstacle to quality sleep. When our minds run wild, it can make us anxious, keeping us up much later than we planned. To combat this, we encourage you to write down your worries in a journal. When you are done, put your worry journal somewhere you cannot see it, like a drawer.
If you find yourself overthinking or worrying in bed, get out of bed, and write down your worries in the journal. As mentioned earlier, you want to make sure that your bed is associated with feeling tired, so you sleep. Worrying in bed will make your brain associate it with worrying.
Tip #10: Diet & Exercise
Diet and exercise can both improve and harm your sleep. 30 minutes of exercise a day is shown to greatly improve your sleep quality. But, do not exercise too close to your bedtime.
Completing strenuous exercise within two hours of going to bed, makes it much harder to fall asleep. Also, make sure you are not going to bed hungry to avoid midnight snacking. These healthy sleep tips are great ways to better your sleep naturally.
At Iora Health, our dedicated team of health coaches and physicians can help steer you on the right path for better sleep and good health. We aim to help our patients feel empowered by their health, placing them at the center of their own care. Our health teams can help design diet and exercise plans to promote good health and encourage better sleep.