Most of us simply do not get enough sleep. We lead busy lives and sadly, getting enough sleep always seems to fall lower and lower on the priority list.
Between working odd shifts and long hours, I have been in this predicament too many times to count. There were periods in my life where I was sleeping very little. I had to learn the hard way that running on little sleep is no way to live.
There is the odd person that is able to function on very little sleep but they are the exception to the rule. While I wish I could be like these people, I can’t. I’ve tried many times and could barely function.
While not having the time to sleep enough is one thing, not being able to fall and stay asleep is another thing. I hear so many people complain that they only got a few hours of sleep because they just couldn’t fall asleep the night before.
This is one area that I have a lot of experience with. Through my own personal experimentation, I have found a list of things to do which help me to get a great nights sleep almost every night.
Here are my 9 tips to sleep like a baby every night, in no particular order.
#1- Drink tea before bed
This has been something that I have been doing for years and it’s one of the most helpful things on this list for me.
When I say tea, I am not just talking about any kind of tea. It has to be a caffeine-free tea so that it doesn’t have the opposite effect and keep you awake.
The tea should be a herbal tea designed to calm you down and help you fall asleep. These teas contain calming herbs and flowers like chamomile, Valerian and peppermint.
Luckily, there are several great ones on the market. My two favorite by far are Sweet Dreams by Bigelow and Sleepytime Extra Celestial Seasonings. I have one or two cups of these teas almost every night and within about a half-hour, I am typically feeling the effects.
There’s just something about the warm tea and calming herbs that relaxes your mind and helps the stress melt away, particularly during the winter months. It’s very difficult to let the worries of the day bother me after I’ve had some tea.
I recommend drinking it between 30 minutes to an hour before your planned bedtime.
I try to incorporate some type of meditation every day. Although I prefer to do it in the early afternoon, meditating before bed is the perfect time because it allows your to clear your mind of all the thoughts and experiences of the day right before you go to sleep.
When your mind is clear and empty, it will not be running in all directions. This is one of the biggest reasons that many cannot fall asleep.
Their mind is constantly thinking. Thinking about their to do list. Thinking about what went wrong that day. Worrying. Stressing. Is it any wonder you can’t fall asleep when your mind is thinking about all of that garbage?
There are a million different books, apps and resources for meditation. I am by no means any kind of expert on meditation but I will give you a very simple place to start.
Sit comfortable on a couch or chair in a quiet room. Close your eyes. Focus on the feeling or sound of your breathing as it goes in and out. If it helps, you can even count the breaths as they go in and out.
The purpose is to focus your mind on something so that all the other thoughts and worries running in your mind stop. Even if just for a few moments.
If you catch yourself deep in thought, gently bring yourself back to your breathing. Continue until you feel that your mind has calmed down.
The more you do this the better you get. I recommend starting with ten minutes and working up to however long you want. Once you get into it, you won’t want to stop.
Along with drinking tea, this is another nightly staple of mine. I am a huge reader in general so this is an enjoyable activity for me.
I used to come home from work late at night and just watch television. I thought that it would help calm my mind down and put me to sleep.
It was difficult for me to accept for a long time because it was fun but television did not help me to fall asleep. It kept me awake. I found that I would stay up watching television into the early hours of the morning, screwing myself over for the next day.
After hearing someone recommend reading before bed, I gave it a shot. It worked wonderfully the first time and has worked every time I’ve done it since. It has never failed me. Not even once.
After about 30 minutes of reading, my eyelids are usually getting heavy and I’m ready to go to sleep. Even if I wasn’t tired at all when I started reading.
Reading is similar to meditation as it focuses your mind on one thing and that’s the book you’re reading. It allows your mind to shut out all the other thoughts and worries and concentrate.
I have found that any kind of book works well however, thought-provoking books on subjects like philosophy, religion and positive thinking work particularly well for me.
I recommend a book about something positive as this is going to be the material you are feeding your mind right before you sleep.
# 4- Write/journal
Similar to reading, writing helps to focus and direct your thoughts onto something. I initially thought it would get my mind thinking more than it already was but it didn’t. It helps to calm it down and collect itself.
While I think any kind of writing would be particularly helpful for the busy mind before bed, journaling seems to be especially helpful. You can journal about anything that you want but I recommend journaling about your day.
Write down all the notable things that happened, good and bad. Journaling is great because there’s no wrong way to do it. You can write your goals or you can write ways you think your day could have been better. Anything. You can even write the way you wished your day had gone if it didn’t go so well.
I am hesitant to set any type of guidelines for a journal as it is yours and yours alone. If you need a place to start however, you could set a word goal to hit or just decide that you’re going to write for a certain amount of time.
For me personally, I like to decide how many pages I’m going to write. I find that helpful because it pushes me to think more. The mind is naturally lazy and I will not usually write too much. When I decide that I’m going to fill a certain number of pages, it forces me to think and be creative to fill the pages.
# 5- Stop watching television
As I said above, this was a habit of mine and it was a tough one to break. If you’re honest with yourself, you will likely admit what you already know. Television is largely a waste of time.
Almost nothing good comes from it. Sure, it’s nice to watch a good movie or show sometimes with your loved ones but think how much time television has taken from your life.
Think how many other things you could’ve done with your time instead of watching television.
Since the vast majority of television is garbage, this is what you’re filling your mind up when you watch it before bed. News. Politics. Reality shows. Almost entirely garbage.
When I watch television, I rarely feel better. My mind is more anxious after than it was before. I have a much harder time falling asleep if I watch television right before bed.
If you absolutely must watch television before bed than do yourself a favor and avoid anything negative like news or politics. Try to watch something inspiring or thought-provoking.
If you are having a hard time kicking the habit. Mix it in with reading until you slowly are able to stop. Watch television one night and then read one night. Then watch television for one night and read for two nights. Keep doing it until you reach the point where you’d just rather read every night.
# 6- Magnesium
Magnesium is an abundant mineral in our body that’s needed in large amounts. Unfortunately, we rarely get the correct amount we need through our food alone.
It’s estimated that as many as 80 % of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Poor soil quality is the main reason that most of us are not getting enough magnesium however, things like stress, poor diet and alcohol consumption are other contributing factors
Magnesium is known as the “relaxation mineral” for good reason. Although it is involved in many processes, magnesium helps to quiet the nervous system and relax your muscles. Two important things you should be concerned about if you are looking for a quality nights sleep.
A magnesium deficiency has been found to cause some serious sleep related issues. Those with low magnesium have been found to experience low-quality sleep, often waking up during the night. Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to insomnia.
I take 450 mg of magnesium citrate before bed almost every night and I’ve found that it’s made a big difference in the quality of my sleep.
# 7-Work harder during the day
I’ve found that when I’ve had a fulfilling day and have put 100 % effort into everything I did, I am more than ready to go to sleep by the end of the day. I am simply exhausted.
This is something I have been trying to do more of but it can be difficult to do. There are many days when I procrastinate too much and just go through the motions with things. We all do it and I know more than most how hard it is to stop.
Whether it’s my job, my workout or this article, if I do everything I set out to do on any given day and do it to the best of my ability, I feel relieved and relaxed by the end. I feel like I have finally earned the chance to go to sleep without feeling guilty.
It’s the days when I don’t do everything I need to or perhaps slack off in a couple of areas, that I get to the end of the day and feel unsatisfied.
I will feel like I could’ve put more effort into my day. I think it’s a combination of physical and mental factors, but I don’t sleep nearly as well when I haven’t put my heart and soul into everything I did that day.
# 8- Excercise
Excercising causes your body to release a chemical called endorphins, also known as the “feel-good chemical”. Endorphins trigger positive feelings in your body and generally just make you feel awesome. This is what causes the phenomena known as “runner’s high”.
Exercise has been found to help with anxiety, stress, and depression. Clinical studies aside, I know that exercise helps with all these issues because I have used it to deal with them personally. When you have these issues, it is very difficult to get quality sleep.
I have said in past articles that I cannot go very long without working out. If I go a few days, I get anxious and stressed out. It’s like the energy inside of me just gets stuck.
When I feel like this, a hard workout will turn it around instantly. I can be feeling absolutely awful and negative but after an hour of working out, my mind and body does a 180 and I feel amazing.
Exercise is the best natural anti-depressant available. On days that I don’t exercise, I find that my sleep is a lower quality and I am more restless.
My one warning is to avoid working out close to the time you normally go to sleep because it will have the opposite effect. It will energize you and keep you awake.
I prefer to workout in the morning or early afternoon however, that’s not possible for most of you. My advice is to workout as early as you can but do your best to make sure it’s at least 5-6 hours before your planned bedtime.
# 9-Avoid blue light
Blue light is the range of light on the visible light spectrum that contains the highest energy. It’s what comes out of our televisions, lights, cell phones, tablets and computers. We are absorbing this light during every waking hour and it’s messing up are bodies ability to produce melatonin.
Before electricity, everyone would do their work during the daylight and would have no other choice than to shut it down when it got dark out. The body starts producing melatonin during the evening hours when the daylight disappears. Maybe our ancestors had a fire but they were not exposed to the massive levels of light that we are today.
Since we are all addicted to our cell phones and televisions, most of us are consuming this blue light up to the second we go to bed. I know many who will even leave their televisions on all night as they sleep.
While it may be almost impossible to totally avoid blue light unless you want to live like a caveman and shun electricity, there’s a better way.
Swanwick blue light blocking glasses were designed to block the blue light from getting to your brain. When exposed to any blue light, the glasses block the blue light out. The glasses have been found to increase the quality of sleep while causing you to become tired quicker than without them.
I bought a pair of these about 8 months ago after reading some reviews. I’ll be honest that I thought they were going to be a waste of money even though the science behind them made sense to me. I was pleasantly surprised with these glasses.
I absolutely love my Swanwick glasses. After wearing them for a short amount of time before bed, usually 30 minutes, I almost always start falling asleep. Even when I’m watching television with them on or using my phone. I have noticed a huge increase in my sleep quality with them and highly recommend them.
I use almost every single one of these tips every night before bed and my sleep quality has never been better. It’s extremely rare that I have any difficulty falling or staying asleep.
The only problem that I have had is having enough time to sleep but hey, which one of us doesn’t have that problem?
Try these out and see which ones work best for you. As we are not all the same, not every tip will work for everyone but perhaps they will. Use them to create a sleep routine of your own!
Do you currently follow any of these tips to improve your sleep quality? I would love to hear down below how they have helped you. I would also love to hear any other tips of your own that I didn’t include here.