Good sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Unfortunately, many women struggle to get the recommended seven to nine hours a night, and that can be detrimental long term. Research shows that poor sleep can cause weight gain and increased risk of heart disease.
The internet is filled with all sorts of sleep tips. We rounded up a few, in case you’re too tired to do it yourself.
1. Create the right environment
Ambiance is key to a successful candlelight dinner. The same is true for great sleep. Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex — not for working or watching television or Netflix. Save for an occasional romantic breakfast in bed, leave the food in the kitchen. Reduce the clutter in your bedroom. Make the room as dark as possible or get an eye mask if there’s no way to block out light. Some people need total quiet to sleep; others like white noise. We like to ask Alexa to play thunderstorm sounds.
Make your bed cozy with pillows you like and blankets that aren’t too warm. Some people find that a weighted blanket helps them sleep better. Wear comfortable nightwear — or nothing at all. Science says that keeping your bedroom between 60 to 67 degrees is optimal for sleep. If you’re prone to night sweats, you’ll probably agree; our editor, however, cannot sleep at all in a room below 68 degrees.
2. Put a hard stop on food and tech
Eat well and stay hydrated during the day. Try to stop eating and drinking at least three hours before bed. If you’re having trouble sleeping, cut sugar, caffeine, and alcohol from your diet — notice what happens. Conversely, some people find they rest better with a light snack before bed.
You should also try to reduce screen time in the evening. According to Harvard researchers, the blue light from your phone or tablet suppresses melatonin and can shift circadian rhythms by as much as three hours. Instead of scrolling through Instagram or watching another episode of Workin’ Moms, unplug and read an actual book.
3. Try yoga and meditation
An overactive or worried mind can keep you from sleeping. Clear your mind with journaling or simply make a gratitude list. Alternatively, do some easy yoga or meditate in the evening.
Another idea: mindful breathing. The 4-7-8 breath technique slows the heart rate and calms the mind. Doing it regularly could help you fall asleep faster and maintain consistency in your sleep schedule. Here’s how to do it:
- Breathe in deeply through your nose for four counts
- Hold your breath for seven counts
- Breathe out deeply from your mouth for eight counts
- Repeat three times.
4. Just stay awake
If you cannot sleep, perhaps you should just stay awake. Instead of fretting over not falling asleep or lying in bed tossing and turning, just commit to being awake. Sleep restriction therapy aims to rest the body clock and encourages the body to sleep by limiting the time you are in bed. First, you set a strict wake time. Then you use a sleep tracker to determine how much sleep you actually get. Then you give yourself only that amount of time to be in bed. As your sleep improves, you add a bit more time until you’re getting the sleep you really need. Be warned, daytime sleepiness and irritability are early side effects.
5. Get up early
Exposure to morning sunlight will help you sleep better at night. Set your alarm and get out of bed when it goes off. Try a morning walk or just sit outside with your coffee. Either way, you’ve got a great start to your day.
Mustafa Elbermawy is head of growth at SomnLabs, a sleep community and e-commerce startup.