It's hard enough getting sleep when you have a busy schedule, but it's even worse when you have trouble getting a good rest at night. Whether you have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or getting yourself out of bed in the morning, there are many problems that can get in the way of feeling fully rested. Follow these tips to improve your sleep patterns and feel more refreshed and reenergized every morning.
One of the best ways to get the best rest at night is to create a firm schedule for going to sleep and waking up. If possible, select a time to go to bed when you naturally begin to feel sleepy. This will help combat insomnia by giving in to your body's natural cycle. If you tend to feel awake most of the night, it may take a week or two on your new schedule to begin feeling naturally sleepy at the time you choose to go to bed. Some people actually feel that waking up at the same time every day is more challenging than picking a set time to go to sleep. For the best results, you'll need to continue that same sleep schedule even on weekends when you may be tempted to sleep in longer or stay up later than usual.
Naps are not always a bad thing. In fact, they can even improve the sleep you get at night since they prevent you from altering the sleep cycle you've developed. Try to nap only if you feel exceptionally tired during the day. Doing so will keep you from developing a reliance on naps while still allowing you to get your needed rest. When you find a nap is necessary, try to do it in the early afternoon. Limit your naps to around 30 minutes to prevent insomnia later on.
To get better rest while you sleep, avoid eating large meals at least two hours before going to bed. If you get heartburn easily, avoid spicy and fatty foods for dinner. Furthermore, you should avoid nicotine and caffeine in the evenings since these stimulants can make it harder to fall asleep. Steer clear of alcoholic drinks before bed since these may disrupt your sleep patterns. If you do need to eat or drink near bedtime, try items which can naturally promote sleep like milk, eggs, avocados, bananas, tuna and oats.
A great way to get better sleep is to do everything possible to make your bedroom more conducive to sleep. If you're sensitive to light while sleeping, get thick drapes to cover your windows or use an eye cover. If noises wake you up easily, use earplugs, a fan, a humidifier or a white noise machine in your bedroom. Spend time shopping for the right mattress and pillow, and adjust your thermostat to the best temperature for you. The key is to create the perfect environment that matches your personal sleep preferences. It's also helpful to keep your bedroom as a "sleep and sex only" space - watch TV, pay bills or work in other rooms whenever possible.
Doing something calming before bed can help you wind down after a long day and get ready to fall asleep. Try reading a book, having a cup of caffeine-free tea, listening to soothing music or taking a hot bath before heading to bed for the night. Eventually, this will become just as much of your sleep cycle as your set times for going to sleep and waking up.
Exercising regularly can help you stick to your sleep schedule and fall asleep better. For most people, a morning or early afternoon exercise routine seems to work best because they feel more energized after working out. As an added bonus, the exercise should help lower stress and promote relaxation, which can also help you sleep better at night.
Although there are some prescription and over-the-counter medications to help you fall asleep, it's much better to develop a natural sleep cycle on your own whenever possible. If you've tried the steps above and still can't seem to get a good night's rest, talk to your doctor about other options.