Sleep experts recommend that we get 7-9 hours of sleep a night, though the amount of sleep required for rejuvenation and productivity differs between individuals. If you have a tough time falling asleep, staying asleep or feeling rested in the morning, then you may need to improve the quality of your sleep (rather than the amount of time that you’re snoozing). Certain habits help us toss and turn less, and science has studied the little things we can do to improve the quality of our sleep. Here are eight scientifically proven ways to sleep better.
1. Have a night-time ritual
Just as our morning rituals help us start the day successfully, an evening ritual before bed signals to your body and mind that it’s time to slow down and prepare for rest. If you’re someone who has a difficult time “switching off”, an evening routine may also redirect your energy toward slowing down.
2. Open the window, if it’s cool outside!
Science shows that ways to sleep better in cooler rooms. You’re not alone if you love to pull the covers tightly over you and burrow inside—in fact, having to do so in order to protect ourselves from the cold actually helps us sleep more soundly. Try opening your window just slightly on a cool night. Meanwhile, during the summertime, turn your AC up just a notch or two.
3. Avoid indulging your sweet tooth right before bed…
Diet definitely affects our sleep, and if you’ve ever noticed that you have bad or anxious dreams after having some late-night sugar, it’s because your brain uses food as fuel when you’re asleep. The kind of foods you feed it will affect the energy (i.e. the dreams) that it produces.
4. …but don’t go to bed hungry
On the other hand, going to bed hungry can not only lead to feeling ravenous or exhausted the next morning, but it can also impact on well you sleep that night. When your body becomes hungry, it goes into preservation mode, which also puts it under stress—it’s wondering where the next meal is going to come from, and how long it will be until you feed it. That’s some pretty heavy stuff for your brain and body to be grappling with while you’re trying to sleep.
5. Don’t work in bed
In fact, avoid bed for everything besides sleeping. If your brain starts to associate your bed with work, leisure, watching movies and so on, it won’t recognize it as clearly as a place to sleep.
6. Turn off your electronics
Lazing in bed with your laptop open, your TV on, or your social media feed on your phone is a recipe for bad sleep. Your brain needs time to unwind just as much as you do, and overloading it with technology just before bed keeps you wired and distracted.
7. White noise
It’s often found that people sleep better in places that are actually not completely silent. Our brains like a bit of soft background noise, so try using a quiet fan or even asleep sound system that plays nature noises—just keep it at a fairly low volume!
8. Close the blinds and curtains
Finally, sleeping in the dark promotes better quality sleep. When we sleep in a room where lighting is still on—or even where there’s a bright alarm clock or TV screen—we get preoccupied with the light. If you live in a city, your sleep may be particularly disturbed because of ambient light and perpetual brightness, so invest in some curtains or a good blind.