9 ways to get more (and better) sleep
Get more sleep!
Ever since becoming a parent almost 4 years ago, I have longed for more sleep. I asked friends and family – how do I get more sleep? I begged my good friend Google – help me get more sleep!
Unfortunately, that didn’t work. There was no magic solution for getting more sleep. I recently learned that the only way to get more sleep was – imagine this – to start sleeping more and sleeping better.
As a mother, I found that I was often putting myself at the very bottom of the list and my need for more sleep was being pushed aside for my children’s’ needs – and because of this, I was suffering both mentally and physically.
Now that my kids are a bit older and are in a regular sleeping routine of their own, I am able to focus on myself a bit more. And let me just tell you, I feel fantastic because of that (most of the time, anyway!).
If you’re trying to find ways to get more sleep, here are a few tips that have helped me:
1. Make sleep a priority
It can be difficult to care for ourselves as much as we need to, especially if you have children, but it is absolutely essential to our own happiness and health (and therefore, the health and happiness of our family).
Don’t leave yourself until last. Make sure that sleep is a big priority in your life. Your mind and body (as well as everyone around you) will thank you immensely.
2. Have a regular bedtime routine
Start getting ready for bed at the same time every day. Brush your teeth, floss and wash your face, and then snuggle up in bed and relax.
If you can’t fall asleep because you have too much going on in your head, keep a pad of paper and a pen near your bedside, and write down everything that is on your mind. This exercise helps me quite a bit when I can’t fall asleep (which isn’t often anymore).
Note: Keep up this routine on the weekends.
3. Wake up at the same time
Waking up at the same time each day is an important part of getting better sleep. When you go to bed at the same time, you wake up feeling alert, refreshed, and stress-free. Now that’s a great start to any morning!
Yes, you need to wake up at the same time on the weekends, too. This has to be routine if it’s going to work. So, regardless of when you go to bed at night, you need to be up at the same time each morning.
4. Nap smarter
If you are still exhausted during the day, a short nap (no more than 30 minutes) will usually cure that for you. Don’t nap longer than 30 minutes because this will often have the opposite effect than what you’re looking for.
When I used to nap during the day, I would nap until I woke up (usually about 2 hours from when I fell asleep). Every time I woke up from those naps, I would feel groggy, hungry, and even more tired than when I first laid down. Now, if I need to nap, I only give myself 20-30 minutes of shut-eye.
5. Sleep in a cool, dark room
Before you lay down to go to sleep, make sure your room is free of all lights. No lamps, no television or computer lights, no cell phones – even the lights on a digital alarm clock can make it difficult to sleep. Close your blinds/curtains and make your room as dark as possible.
It’s also very difficult to sleep in a warm room, so try to keep yours pretty cool. Most sleep scientists agree that sleeping in a cool room contributes to better sleep.
6. Make sure your bed is comfortable
Although I always encourage people to avoid paying full price for anything, I also encourage you to invest in certain things – a good mattress being one of them. The better your mattress, the better quality of sleep you will get. It’s that simple.
Along with a good-quality mattress, you should also have the proper pillow to support your head and neck, as well as sheets that are comfortable and not too warm.
7. Exercise regularly
Your exercise habits during the day play a big role in how well you sleep at night, so make sure you are exercising on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean you need to be working out for hours a day – even 30 minutes of daily activity is all it takes to start getting more (and better) sleep.
If you can’t find time to exercise during the day, don’t do anything too strenuous before going to sleep. Instead, try a relaxing exercise, like yoga.
8. Tidy your bedroom
It’s hard to rest in a room that is covered in clutter. Keep your bedroom tidy at all times so that it is a restful place to wind down at night.
Don’t just tidy up once and hope for the best. You need to have a system in place for keeping clutter out of your bedroom (and the rest of your home). My series on how to de-clutter your home may help you with this.
9. Limit food & beverage intake before bed
What you put into your body before you go to bed plays a big role in how well you sleep at night. If you must eat something, keep it light and as fat-free as possible, such as yogurt, cereal with milk, or fruit.
Try not to drink too much before bed, because this will likely mean you will be up throughout the night to use the washroom. Avoid caffeine, and drink water only until about 2 hours before you go to sleep.
Getting more sleep (and sleeping better) is one of the best things you can do not only for your physical health but for your mental health as well.
When you get enough sleep (between 7-8 hours each night), you will be in better health, but you will also have stronger immunity, a better sex life, better control over your weight and you will overall be in a much better mood.
All great tips and I can definitely vouch for the one on investing in a REALLY high quality mattress. After my hubby’s back surgery a few years ago we totally splurged on a very expensive, high quality king size mattress. It is so dreamy, so comfortable and after sleeping on cheapies all my life I can now feel the difference. We always feel so refreshed in the morning because of how comfortable it is. I almost dread going on vacations now because I know I have to leave the comfort of my bed to sleep on those horrible warped hotel mattresses.
Haha, I feel the same way when I go on vacations!
Sadly you can’t try mattresses out…I’m not happy with the new one we got about a year ago (and no, we have never had a cheap mattress!). PSA: If you have always had an individual pocket coil mattress, don’t switch away from that for any reason! I swear I can feel my husband breathing! With a bad back I think I’d be best sleeping in space with no gravity!
Ikea lets you try a mattress for 30 days.
The tip about exercise — really works. You sleep like a log. So I workout about 530 PM each day and have had not trouble sleeping soundly.
I have a question for SeriousSally: Which mattress did you buy? Just 4 years ago, I was confident I had bought a quality innerspring pillow-top mattress (firm). A few months later, I started waking up with aches and pains.
I want to buy a new mattress ASAP.
Hi Mel, It’s a Sealy Posturepedic with a luxury Euro pillow top. I wish I could be more specific but I couldn’t locate the model online, we purchased it about 6-7 years ago. Another great feature about it is that I don’t feel any movement from my husband or little ones sneaking in in the middle of the night. We purchased one that was just below firm. Hope that helps a little, mattress selection seems to have gotten really complicated nowadays.
Thank you for your suggestion. Mattress shopping is very complicated nowadays!
Like most moms I haven’t put myself on the list since my second was born. No time for anything for myself it seems including exercise. The odd time my youngest slept through the night, I felt incredible the next day so I’m wondering Cassie, where as our children are the same age, did Kaylee naturally begin falling asleep on her own or did you have to do some form of sleep training? I suppose that could be a subject of another article. I just feel like I’m at the end of my rope!
Thankfully, both of our kids have always been great sleepers. Kaylee goes to bed at 8pm and is not up until 8-10am (usually around 10). She also naps for 2-3 hours during the day. I’m very fortunate!
That’s amazing! My daughter still wakes 2-3 times a night and is up at 7. I keep waiting for things to get a bit easier.
Has anyone tried yoga nidra? I recently started practicing it and can honestly say it’s really helpful. It’s basically a combination of yoga and meditation while lying down. I just follow videos on YouTube. All you have to do is lie down and just listen to the instructions, no other movement at all. The best part is you can actually fall asleep and still reap the benefits because a part of your mind is still actively listening. It can be practiced at any time of the day. I generally do it in the morning. I find it gives me a lot of clarity and energy throughout the day. I used to be a restless, nervous wreck, but now I’m more calm, peaceful, and pleasant to be around.
Research has shown yoga nidra has tremendous health benefits, especially for sleep related problems and disorders. It has been found that if practiced regularly, an hour of yoga nidra can equal to four hours of sleep. Many have been able to get off of sleeping pills with regular practice.
Now we all don’t have an hour to practice, so here’s one that is short and useful – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr3N-FtQzTk (15 minutes run time). I highly recommend anybody interested to do their research and check out the other videos on YouTube to find one that works for them. Hope this helps.
I had problems sleeping too. I did all those things but then I would get up in the middle of the night and have a hard time getting back to sleep. My baby was sleeping through the night but not me! Oh the irony..!
That was until I found a tea that really helps me stay asleep. It’s a tea from the new chain called Teavana : a third of Hawaiian Ginger and two thirds of Tranquil Dreams mixed together. Magic!!! I sleep a full 8 hours without waking now. It was a bit of a splurge but for me, it was totally worth it.
I love going to bed! I find taking a quick bath/shower before I go to bed lowers my body temperature and that tells my body it’s time to sleep and feels so refreshing. Also, no electronics for about an hour before bed. I don’t cut corners on a mattress – usually go for high/er end range. We spend about 1/3 of our life in bed. I love “good sheets”. For years I tried to economize, but there’s no going back. I buy mine at Sam’s in the US, but Costco has good sheets too and they last far longer than the cheap sheets. They feel better than “hotel sheets”! I also buy my pillows at Sam’s. I used to wash them, but they’re so reasonable, I toss them before they’re flat.
A bath, a good mattress and a cozy comfy bed equals a great sleep for me.
I take 500 mg of magnesium about 2 hours before bedtime. It is a muscle relaxant among other things. This has worked for me like nothing else, and I sleep through the night. This was recommended to me by a friend who is into natural remedies when I mentioned I had no trouble falling asleep at night but would wake up and stay up for hours. Now, I have no trouble at all! Great for those of us that are finding that hormonal fluctuations are starting to really affect us! An easy thing to try.
Helen, my daughter has some in the cupboard, I think I’ll see how that helps tonight!
One thing to watch out for though, is that for some people magnesium can give the “runs”. I am fine with it, and when my two sisters tried it, it worked great for one, but the other ended up with that problem. If you have regularity issues as well as sleeping problems, though, you are killing two birds with one stone (or pill as the case may be!). You should also take the pills with some food.
I really like these posts as for sleeping problems accompanied by being very cold. get your thyroid checked