Getting enough sleep is a good health must: It keeps you fit, prevents heart disease, diabetes, muscles up your memory, and more. Don't sleep on it - start following these easy tips today to wake up happier, healthier and refreshed.
- Make breakfast your heaviest meal. Digesting food takes energy, so if you have a heavy meal late in the day, your body will have to work hard to digest it while you're trying to sleep. Aim to eat balanced meals throughout the day instead.
- Balance your bedtime snack. Combine carbs with protein containing tryptophan—like a cup of whole grain cereal with fat-free milk—will make you sleepier than having just one of the two. Carbs help release the sleep-triggering chemical into your bloodstream, which tells your brain it's time to log off.
3. Go Bing before bed. In the evening, eat a handful of cherries, which scientists discovered are jam-packed with melatonin, the same hormone created by your body to regulate sleep pattern.
4. Dine on seafood. Eating a fish based diet can help you snooze more soundly. Cod, tuna, snapper, halibut, and especially shrimp contain levels of sleep-promoting tryptophan comparable to those found in turkey.
5. Steer clear of greasy eats. A late-night pizza slice can trigger heartburn and derail slumber. If you're prone to indigestion, avoid fatty foods or citrus - as well as chocolate, mints, and carbonated beverages - close to bedtime
6. Avoid three-alarm chili. Stay away from spicy foods before bed. They raise body temperature, which may keep you from drifting off, and can trigger heartburn, too.
7. Skip Chinese takeout. The food flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG)—which is often added to Chinese food, canned veggies, soups, and other processed foods—may trigger headaches and insomnia in some people. Check food labels if you suspect the additive is keeping you up.
8. Save caffeine for the morning. Caffeine can stay in your system hours after your last cuppa joe. Snooze soundly by cutting caffeine out after lunch or switching to decaf or herbal teas.
9. Watch for other hidden sleep-robbers. Coffee is the most obvious source of caffeine, but don't forget that the sleep-stealing chemical is also found in sodas, chocolate, tea, and some medications. Avoid these after lunch, too.
10. Get the right vitamins. Getting adequate amounts of vitamins B6 and B12, calcium, and iron can help you maintain healthy sleep patterns.
11. Try magnesium. This mineral helps the body make serotonin, which in turn produces melatonin, the brain chemical that sets your body clock. Take 200 to 300 mg of magnesium citrate daily with dinner. Balance it with calcium - which aids absorption - by taking 400 mg of calcium daily with lunch.
12. Say no to refills. It may sound obvious, but limiting liquids for a few hours before bed will minimize your need for midnight bathroom breaks.
13. Cut calories. If you're overweight, shedding pounds may help you rest easier. Studies show that heavy people who suffer sleep apnea (a known slumber stopper) experience fewer symptoms after slimming down.
14. Sip smartly. Limit alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. A cocktail helps you nod off initially but may disrupt your sleep later on as the alcohol is metabolized and its sedating effects wear off.
15. Check your tolerance. Even if you've never been sensitive to caffeine, you may become so over time; age-related changes in body composition can affect the speed at which it is metabolized. Take note that caffeine's half-life—the time required by your body to break down half of it—can be as long as 7 hours.
16. Time caffeine intake around your cycle. Estrogen may delay caffeine metabolism even further. Between ovulation and menstruation, you take about 25% longer to eliminate it. If you're on birth control pills, you take about twice the normal time.
17. Try tea. If cutting coffee cold turkey will make you miserable, have tea instead. It has about half the caffeine content of coffee and contains substances that may help calm stress. If black tea is too strong, try green, which has about one-third the caffeine content of black tea.
18. Steep some lemon balm. This mint-family herb has been shown to bring on sleep; certain chemicals called terpenes are known to have a soothing, sedating effect. Brew yourself a mellowing mug tonight.
19. Sip sage. This common kitchen herb is often a top choice for stopping night sweats, which can keep you up. Place 4 heaping tablespoons of dried sage in 1 cup of hot water. Cover it tightly and steep for 4 hours. Strain and reheat when you're ready to drink.
20. Relax with chamomile. A bright, daisy like flower, chamomile has an age-old reputation for calming nerves and gently aiding sleep. Drinking one or two cups of tea before bed can help you doze off.
21. Give valerian a go. This herb is one of the most widely used natural sleep soothers in the world. It contains compounds called valepotriates, which may stimulate your own natural relaxation system without causing dependency. Buy it in tea, tablet, and tincture form at health food stores.
22. Balance your blood sugar. Women with sleep apnea are more than 3 times more likely to have diabetes than those without it. What you eat can actually help you regulate blood sugar; blueberries, chia seeds, cinnamon, mangos, olive oils, avocados, eggs, vinegar (any kind!) and cherries all have surprising blood sugar benefits.
23. Cool off. Set your thermostat between 60 and 65° F. It'll help nudge your internal temperature down—a key ingredient to deep and restful sleep.
24. Dunk in the tub. When your feet and hands are warm, blood vessels dilate, allowing heat to escape and body temperature to fall, which guides the brain into sleep mode. Taking a hot soak 45 minutes before bedtime can trigger this cooling process.
25. Cut back on TV. Heavy users of electronics before bed (3.5 hours or more) are almost twice as likely to report poor sleep quality as lighter users (2.5 hours or less)—despite getting about the same amount of nightly shut-eye, found one Japanese study. Spend more time reading before bed and record shows to watch earlier in the day.
26. Relocate your laptop. Keep your computer in another room, and if you have a laptop, close it . The monitor's bright display may inhibit your production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for telling the body it's time for bed.
27. Clock out. If you can't nod off, turn your clock around so you can't stare at it. The constant reminder that you're running out of time adds sleep-robbing stress.
28. Clean up the chaos. A cluttered bedroom makes for a cluttered mind—the kind that churns well into the night. Remove any unfinished work—bills, that half-done scrapbook, etc. When you eliminate stuff unrelated to sleep, your brain starts to associate the room only with rest.
29. Let the morning light in. Get outside when it's sunny, or at least turn on the lights at home in the morning. This will help you reset your awake-sleep cycle.
30. Bring on the (white) noise. For some, it's not sound or lack thereof that's keeping them awake. It's the inconsistency that's disruptive. Turn on an exhaust fan or white noise machine to block sounds and provide just enough noise if you can't stand total silence.
31. Hide blue light. Any light signals the brain to wake up, but blue light from your cell phone and clock's digital display are the worst offenders. For sound sleep, cover your clock and banish lighted devices from the bedroom.
32. Block natural light. Since even a small amount of brightness can be strong enough to enter your retina when your eyes are closed, hang blackout shades or curtains if there's light coming through the window.
33. Don't hit snooze. When you slam the snooze button, your brain knows it will go off again in a few minutes—so you won't go into the deeper, more restful stages of slumber, and you'll be more tired than if you'd gotten up right away. Set your alarm for when you really need to rise.
34. Do less in bed. Spend less time in bed than you actually want: You'll fatigue your body and start to associate your bed with sleep instead of tossing and turning; then you can work up to dozing longer.
35. Use the right night-light. If you need a night-light in your bedroom, equip it with a 7-watt incandescent bulb. It's okay to briefly turn on a low-wattage light bulb for bathroom run.
36. Cover your eyes. Wearing an old-fashioned eye mask helps block out sleep-robbing light and signals to your brain that it's really nighttime.
37. Toss your old mattress. Get rid of your mattress after 5 to 7 years. One study found that most people who switch to new bedding sleep significantly better and have less back pain. Try Real Sleep by Real Simple (https://realsleep.com) - Made in the USA. Organic Cotton Cover. For the sleep of your dreams. Simple.
38. Stop sleeping with Fido. We know you love your furry best friend, but more than half of pet owners have admitted that their animal disrupted their sleep every night. Have your pup sleep in a crate next to your bed instead. Dogs like to doze in a safe, protected space.
39. Keep out a cuddly cat. Shut your kitty out of the bedroom but keep her entertained with special nighttime-only toys that you put away in the morning. Deter door scratching by putting double-sided tape on the bottom edge; cats hate the stickiness.
40. Create sounds of silence. Earplugs will help block out disruptive noise, but pick a pair that will stay put.
41. Ease night sweats. Sleep in a cool room and wear light clothing (several companies make moisture-wicking pajamas) to stop hot flashes. If you're still tossing and turning, consider hormone therapy. Research suggests it is safe for many women in their 50s particularly the new low doses when used for fewer than 5 years.
42. Hang up to sleep soundly. Talking on a mobile phone before bed can interfere with deep sleep. Researchers theorize that low-level radiation from these phones may disrupt production of sleep-inducing melatonin or excite other areas of the brain. To ensure sound slumber, turn off your cell and use a landline for nighttime calls.
43. Nap smarter. Stay out of the sack during short daytime snooze sessions, because we associate our beds with long periods of rest. Lie down on a quiet couch or carpeted floor instead.
44. Set the mood. Adjusting the lighting around your house can bring on sleep. Dim the rooms you occupy after dinner to let your body know the day is ending.
45. Raise the head of your bed. Stop a snoring partner by putting a couple of bricks or bed risers under the legs at the head of your bed, so that you're elevating the upper torso, not just the head.
46. Spring for new support. An old pillow may not provide enough support, causing back or neck pain that can interrupt sleep. To tell if it's time to toss it, fold yours in half, squeezing out the air. It should spring back to its original shape and fluffiness. If not, replace it.
47. Pick the right prop. Those with chronic neck aches should consider orthopedic pillows with a scooped-out hollow—they better support your head and neck, making it more comfortable to nod off.
48. Avoid pillow pileup. Use only one pillow under your head; multiple ones may cause painful misalignment. Make sure it's supporting only your head and neck and isn't under your shoulders. If you sleep on your stomach, consider going pillow-free to minimize stress on the spine.
49. Banish dust mites. An old mattress can house 2.5 times the allergy-triggering dust mites of a new one, but encasing your mattress and box spring in non-allergenic covers can cut your exposure by up to half.
50. Review your meds. Certain drugs, such as asthma sprays, can disrupt sleep. If you take prescription meds, ask your doctor about the side effects. If she suspects that the drug could be interfering with sleep, she may be able to find a substitution or adjust when you take it.
51. Choose cozy bedding. Use enough blankets to stay warm, or you may otherwise unconsciously curl up to keep snug, which can leave you with a sore back. But make sure you don't overheat either—feeling too hot can also stave off sleep.
52. Allergy-proof your bed. Runny nose and watery eyes keeping you up? Washing your bed linens in hot water once a week will help reduce dust mites and relieve symptoms.
53. Ease lower-back pressure. If back pain is making you stay up and count sheep, try placing a pillow under your knees. It comfortably supports your lower spine.
54. Wash away pollen. Got hay fever? Take a quick shower at night. A full-body rinse before bed helps wash away pollen before you hit the sheets.
55. Enlist the troops. A never-ending list of household chores can keep you up later than you'd like. De-stress by delegating. Ask your family to pick up a minimum of two chores they each can do per week; then hang a list of everyone's duties on the fridge.
56. Problem solve before bedtime. Don't lie in bed obsessing over your troubles. Set aside time early in the evening to address worries. Write down your pressing concerns, along with a possible solution for each, a few hours before retiring.
57. Calm an overactive mind. When fretful, get up and go to another part of the house (keep the lights off). Your anxious thoughts will usually stop right away, and then go back to bed. This well-studied strategy prevents you from associating your bed with anxiety.
58. Try meditation. Try this: Find a comfortable sitting position. Next, focus on your breathing, each inhalation and exhalation. Whenever your attention wanders, refocus. Once you master this, try counting breaths. Count 1 to yourself as you exhale, then 2 on your next exhaled breath, and so on, until you reach 5. Then start over again at 1.
59. Focus on a mantra. You can also meditate with a mantra—a syllable, word, or phrase (such as shalom, breathe, or peace) that you repeat either silently or aloud. This ancient spiritual practice can help focus scattered thoughts.
60. Make music a part of your ritual. Any music you associate with relaxation can help you drift off to dreamland. If possible, use a timer so the music shuts off soon after you've fallen asleep.
61. Think happy thoughts. Program yourself to turn off unpleasant thoughts as they creep into your mind. Reflect on enjoyable experiences you've had. Reminisce about good times, fantasize, or play some mental games.
62. Stop stressing about work. Being unable to let go of a demanding day may keep you up at night. Set a limit (5 to 10 minutes max) for venting about your job to your family. Or keep a nightly log of good things that happened at work—it could put out any emotional fires and allow you to relax more.
63. Try a form of visualization. Tired of counting sheep? Do this instead: Imagine a little man with a paintbrush, drawing a big black 100 on a billboard. Follow the brush strokes, slowly, carefully, as he paints backward to 99, 98, and so on. Chances are you'll never make it to 1.
64. Walk mindfully to ease anxiety. Pick a quiet place, such as your bedroom or living room, where you can pace slowly back and forth or in circles for 10 minutes. Looking straight ahead, focus on one aspect of walking. Notice how one foot makes contact with the ground; your weight shifts, and the other foot lifts.
65. Go green. A view of nature—whether it's a panoramic vista or a simple houseplant—can lower blood pressure and boost feelings of contentment. Place potted plants throughout your home to help eliminate sleep-stealing anxiety.
66. Track your sleep patterns. Create a sleep journal for 2 weeks; then look it over for common habits, such as excessive caffeine consumption. If you're still having problems after a couple of months, ask your doctor about being evaluated for a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea.
67. Stop striving for perfection. Research shows that perfectionists are twice as likely to have trouble sleeping as those who give themselves more leeway. Train yourself to head to bed even if you haven't folded that last load of laundry. It will get done tomorrow.
68. Know when to go pro. If you've been relying on sleep pills to doze off, consider counseling instead. Therapy—which can help banish negative thinking such as "I'm never going to fall asleep"—proved to be 30% more effective than drugs in treating insomnia, report Harvard researchers.
69. Hit the hay first. Husband's snoring driving you mad? Head to bed before him, so you'll already be deep asleep when he conks out.
70. Hug before bed. Couples who cuddle lower their heart rate and blood pressure, so give your guy a squeeze or hold his hand; even just 10 minutes has been proven to have calming effects.
71. Play with your pooch. Research shows that petting your dog reduces stress. In one study, levels of soothing chemicals serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin increased after people played with a dog. Just do it before you climb into bed, as sleeping with a pet can put off sleep.
72.Gab with a girlfriend. Women respond to stress by going into a mode UCLA researchers have dubbed "tend and befriend." Tapping into social supports increase levels of oxytocin in the blood, which has a calming influence. To relax before bed, indulge in a good long phone call a few hours before slipping between the sheets.
73. Set smaller goals. If your mind races before bed with everything on your plate, aim for more manageable goals. So instead of thinking, "I need to redo the bedroom," concentrate on organizing one corner on a Saturday afternoon.
74. Take a media vacation. Turn off the television and leave the morning paper on the porch. Having a break from the news for a few days may decrease feelings of anxiety and lessen personal worries, which may in turn help you nod off more easily.
75. Book your way to better sleep. If tomorrow's to-do list keeps you up tonight, try listening to an audiobook. Your brain works like a tape player—with one main auditory loop that processes words. If you fill that loop with an interesting book, there's no room for your own worrisome internal narrative.
76. Slip on some socks. The instant warm-up widens blood vessels in your feet, allowing your body to transfer heat from its core to the extremities, which cools you slightly and induces sleep.
77. Spritz on some lavender. There's a reason people have been filling pillows with lavender flowers for centuries: Research shows it increases deep slow-wave sleep and helps mild insomnia. Squirt your bedpost with lavender essence just before bed.
78. Break an early evening sweat. Four hours before bed, do some form of exercise—take a brisk walk, swim, or do yoga—for at least 30 minutes. A few hours after you work out, your parasympathetic nervous system kicks into gear, slowing heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing, and signaling your body that you're ready to fall asleep.
79. Find a different headache remedy. Research shows that hitting the hay to relieve daytime head pain can actually contribute to sleep struggles at night. Try soothing aches with an ice pack or gentle massage.
80. Quiet a snoring bedmate. A snorer's sawing can reach 90 decibels—as loud as a blender. Even if you can fall asleep, his snoring will wax and wane all evening and could wake you up during REM sleep, the most restful phase. Ask your partner to sleep on his side instead of his back.
81. Breathe right. Does your own snoring wake you up? Sleep on your left side, which keeps your tongue from blocking the airway.
82. Avoid back pain. When settling into bed, take a minute to ensure a proper sleep position: on your side or back. Avoid lying on your stomach, which can put stress on your back. If resting on your side is uncomfortable, place a pillow between your knees for more spinal support.
83. Ease Restless Legs Syndrome. Drink a 6-ounce glass of tonic water each night before bed until symptoms go away. It contains quinine, which stops repeated muscle contractions.
84. Wear roomier PJs. If you're prone to nighttime leg cramps, snug-fitting pajamas will only exacerbate them. Choose a pair of baggy cotton pants or soft, comfy shorts.
85. Stay on schedule. People who follow regular daily routines—bedtimes, wake-up times, work hours, and meals—report fewer sleep problems than those with more unpredictable lives. Recurring time cues synchronize your body rhythms and sleep-wake cycles.
86. Take a nap. It's okay to nap, especially if you didn't sleep well the night before. Research has found that people who nap for 15 minutes feel more alert and less sleepy, even after a bad night's sleep.
87. But pick the right nap time. If you're a nap lover, try to take them as early in the day as possible so your body can build up the necessary hunger for sleep that will propel you into slumber come nightfall.
88. Build up to 8 hours. Two extra hours of sleep a week is only 17 more minutes a day—a lot more manageable, even for the most packed of schedules. Start there and slowly work toward 8 hours of snooze time a night—the right amount for most adults.
89. Give Eastern exercise a go. Practicing qigong or tai chi —both different styles of active Asian meditation—can help you sleep longer and more soundly, research shows.
90. Walk yourself sleepy. People who walked at least six blocks a day at a normal pace were one-third less likely to have trouble sleeping, according to one study. Those who picked up the pace had even better sleeping habits.
91. Get busy. You may feel too wiped out for sex, but an evening romp in the hay may actually help you sleep better. Some researchers have found that hormonal mechanisms triggered during sexual activity help enhance sleep.
92. Outsmart jet lag. Melatonin supplements may help you override the urge to stay awake when you should be nodding off. One study shows popping one for several nights may reduce daytime fatigue, too. Take 3 mg of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime every night while at your travel destination.
93. Soothe your worries. St. John's wort not only helps calm the mind but also helps you sleep more soundly. Look for a supplement containing at least 0.3% hypericin per capsule or 300 mg of the extract to be taken three times daily. Warning: St. John's wort has been shown to interact with several prescription medications. Check with your doctor before taking it.
94. Take a whiff. The smell of oranges may help you feel less anxious, more positive, and calmer. Add a few drops of citrus-scented oil to a room diffuser in your bedroom on stressful nights.
95. Book a post-work rubdown. A little pampering can rub your stress levels away. Massage sessions lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and boost production of mood-boosting brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
96. Sing to stop snoring. Belting out your favorite tunes during the day may let snorers (and their bedmates) snooze more soundly. Study participants who sang for 20 minutes a day snored significantly less once they started singing. Researchers suspect singing may help by firming up flabby muscles in the upper airways.
97. Borrow an advance from your sleep bank. If insomnia is part of your PMS symptoms, prepare for it by going to bed a few hours earlier for a few days before they set in. It may help alleviate the tiredness and irritability later on.