An Irish proverb says, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”
While laughter is definitely good medicine and relatively easy to find, that isn’t always the case with sleep. According to researchers, half of Americans say they don’t get enough rest and feel tired most of the time. Not only does that affect us physically, but it can also have a major impact on our emotional and mental states as well.
So how can we get a good night’s sleep?
Although there are many prescription and over-the-counter options that can help, they may not necessarily address other factors that are exacerbating the problem. These can include the things you do – or don’t do – before you crawl into bed.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 7 habits you might want to consider practicing before bed so you are getting your zzz’s instead of counting sheep each night.
7 Habits for a Better Night’s Sleep
There’s no perfect solution that can put you in a deep sleep like Rip Van Winkle or Snow White, but here are a few ideas you might try to relax and settle in for a good night’s rest:
- Write down your to-do’s before going to bed. Most sleep problems stem from our minds racing about the long list of things we need to take care of. We play them over and over in our brains trying to remember everything, which keeps sound sleep at bay. Instead of tracking them mentally, take a few minutes before bed each night and write down the things you need to do or remember. With your mind free, you’ll be able to worry less and sleep more.
2. Take a warm bath or shower. Washing your worries away with a warm bath or shower can do wonders to induce sleep. Add relaxing scents to your water or use scented soap (we highly recommend lavender), play some soft music and let your troubles flow down the drain.
3. Disconnect from all your devices at a certain time. Tablets, cell phones, laptops and TV screens can keep your brain wired, making it difficult to wind down. The light from these devices can also interrupt your melatonin production, which is a major component of sleep. Try unplugging from these distractions at least 30 minutes before your bedtime to foster better sleep.
4. Make your sleep environment as tranquil as possible. When your bed or bedroom is cluttered or disorganized it can affect your sleep patterns and make it harder for you to relax. Take time to declutter your sleep space by putting clothes where they belong, removing work-related items and returning things (such as kids’ toys) back to their appropriate homes. When you create a room that is peaceful, you’ll find sleep is easier to come by.
5. Aim to go to bed at the same time each night. While it can be tempting to read one more chapter, scroll through your social media for five more minutes or finish your favorite movie, it also means you go to bed at all hours of the night, resulting in sleep difficulties. If possible, do your best to establish a routine that allows you to go to bed at the same time each night to ensure quality rest.
6. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your bedroom routine. While sleep is the goal, you may need to relax first in order to get to the next stage. Try some controlled breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery to help ease you into sweet slumber.
7. Keep a gratitude journal. A thankful heart can be sleep’s best friend. Consider keeping a journal on your nightstand or somewhere next to your bed and write down 3-5 things you are grateful for (whether it be people or events) each night. When your heart is happy, sleep can follow.
A good night’s rest can go a long way to boosting your spirits, accomplishing more and staying healthy. But only if you can actually get to sleep! Try instilling one or more of these habits into your bedtime routine so you can sleep like a baby all night long.
Which of these habits could help you get a good night’s rest?
Are there any others you’ve found helpful that we might want to add?