Getting at least seven hours of sleep a night is imperative, yet many of us get much less and never feel truly rested. There are a few ways to help ensure you fall and stay asleep each night, and they’re not hard to implement either.
Keep the bedroom dark and cool. Humans sleep best when the room temperature is around 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to sleep.org, so this is the temperature you should aim to set your A/C to in the summer and your heat to in the winter. A dark room also ensures your melatonin kicks in right away so blackout curtains or an eye mask can ensure there is nothing disturbing your sleep rhythms.
Limit screen time before bed. As noted above, the key to quality sleep is darkness before bed—allowing melatonin to kick in and do its job. If you spend your time on the computer, watching TV or on your phone before bed, you’re going to have a harder time falling asleep. The bright light tricks your brain into believing it is still daytime, suppressing the release of melatonin and keeping you up. Try to establish a bedtime routine at least an hour before bed that includes activities that avoid the screen, like taking a bath or reading a book.
Be aware of what you eat and drink. Eating a big meal too late will disrupt your sleep later in the night; so, if you feel hungry before bed, keep it to a light snack. Certain foods are also helpful for sleep, including nuts, milk, rice, cherries, bananas, oats and yogurt. Fatty, unhealthy foods have the opposite effect.
Drink-wise, caffeine will keep you up if you drink it later in the day. Alcohol might initially make you sleepy, but it will inevitably interrupt your quality REM sleep later in the night, so it’s best to avoid it closer to bedtime. It’s always best to stay hydrated, but avoid drinking too much water right before bed so a full bladder doesn’t wake you up in the middle of the night.
Exercise early in the day. Just like what we eat and drink can affect our sleep, so does exercise. While exercise is great for physically tiring you out and maintaining a healthy body and regular sleep schedule, intense exercise right before bed will re-energize you. The more energized you are before bed, the harder it will be to fall asleep.