Coffee is my BFF. I saw a shirt with this saying on it at my local Target, but as I started to put it into my cart, I realized I may have a problem. Instead of buying a new shirt professing my love of coffee, I needed a better night’s sleep.
Being married to someone who constantly tossed and turned and also working long shifts at the hospital made coffee essential to make it through the day. Around 2 PM each day, I would start to get shaky, and my heart would start racing, but all I could think about was taking a nap.
Something. Had. To. Give.
Finally, we tried some of the suggestions listed below and started getting a better night’s sleep! While our sleeping patterns still aren’t perfect, I no longer feel like the walking dead, and I’m sure these can help you too.
11 Ways to Achieve a Better Night’s Sleep
Give your room a makeover.
As an HGTV junkie, this one is my absolute favorite, but it may not be exactly what you think. According to the National Sleep Foundation, maintain a comfortable temperature in your room, somewhere between 60-67 degrees. Make sure your pillows and mattress are comfortable and free from allergens (sorry Fluffy, you gotta go). Use blackout curtains to make the room dark, and use a white noise device, such as a fan.
Watch what you eat and drink before bed.
According to WebMd, drinking alcohol before bed can actually cause you to wake more at night. Caffeine shouldn’t be consumed after noon (oops) and can be hidden in various foods and medications. They also recommend finishing eating at least an hour before bedtime and limiting how much you drink at night to avoid making a midnight trip to the bathroom.
Block the clock.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and looked at your clock only to start thinking about what you have to do in the morning? Researchers at Harvard recommend turning your clock away from you at night to keep you from stressing about your next day’s to-do list.
I remember picking my kids up from summer camp. They were filthy, sweaty, smelly, and fell asleep as soon as they got in the car. Just like I’ve noticed in my kids, regular, brisk exercise has been shown to improve sleep. Just don’t exercise within 3 hours before bedtime.
There’s an app for that.
There are several apps available to help you track your sleep and develop better sleep habits. One app I use is the Sleep Cycle App. You sleep with your phone under your pillow, and it tracks your sleep cycle based on your movement. You can record notes about the quality of your sleep, and it even wakes you up at a time suitable for you based on how awake you are. Don’t worry, though. It won’t let you oversleep.
Those little blue screens on your tablets and phones stimulate your brain and aren’t good for sleeping. Take the TV out of the bedroom, and use your space for say…sleeping, among other things.
Talk to your doctor.
You may try all of or a combination of these tips and find you’re still tossing and turning at night. Untreated depression and anxiety can wreak havoc on your sleep. Some medications may keep you awake at night, or you may require a sleep aid to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Sleep apnea can deprive your body of much needed oxygen and cause you to wake frequently throughout the night.
Try a weighted blanket.
Weighted blanketshave been used with mentally disabled children to help them fall asleep with the sensation they’re being held close. Although expensive, it may be worth a try if one partner is tossing and turning, causing the other to not get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep with separate blankets.
Try sleeping with one person under the covers and the other on top or use separate blankets altogether. If your partner doesn’t sleep well, it may reduce how much you sense them waking up at night and at least improve your sleep quality.
Stick to a routine.
This is easier said than done for me, since I do shift work in an emergency room. There are times I work early in the morning and other times I work overnight. However, I can plan my schedule in advance. Sticking to a sleep routine will get your body used to falling asleep at a certain time and hopefully let you wake up feeling refreshed.
Include a little white noise.
One of my favorite vacations was when we rented a condo on the beach in Florida. We were so close to the ocean, we would fall asleep each night listening to the waves beat against the shore. I don’t think I had ever slept so well! Adding a little “white noise” to your room can also help you sleep sounder at night. You could turn on a fan, put in some earbuds and play some beach sounds, or even use a white noise machine.
You may not be able to try every single one of these suggestions, but if you try a few of these, I’m sure you’ll get a better night’s sleep.
Comment below! Which one of these strategies will you start to implement or have you found works for you?