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11 Science-Backed Techniques for Better Sleep | Sleep Reset

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May 8, 2023

How to Sleep Better: 11 Science-Backed Techniques

Medically reviewed by: 

You’re not alone if you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. Insomnia affects millions of people worldwide – but the good news is that there are science-backed techniques to help you improve your sleep quality. Let’s explore 11 of them.

Engage in relaxing activities before bed

Take some time to wind down before bed as this can help signal to your body that it's time for sleep. A few activities are:

  • Take a warm bath or shower: The warmth can help relax your muscles and calm your mind.
  • Read a book or listen to calming music: This can distract you from any racing thoughts, allowing you to drift off more easily.
  • Practice yoga or meditation: These practices have been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can help calm your mind and body. Here are some effective techniques you can try:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Tense and relax each muscle group in your body, starting with your toes and working up to your head.
  • Visualization: Picture a calming scene or activity in your mind, such as walking through a forest or sitting on the beach.
  • Calming music or sounds: Listen to soothing sounds like white noise, nature sounds or soft instrumental music.

Write down worries to clear your mind

Keep a worry journal and write down any concerns that come up before bed as a way to clear your mind. Writing down worries can be an effective method for reducing stress and improving sleep quality. By identifying the source of your worries, you may find it easier to tackle them head-on and develop a strategy for managing them. Create an action plan for any problems to help you feel more in control. 

Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime

Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime to improve your sleep quality. The blue light emitted from electronic devices suppresses melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Instead of scrolling through social media or watching TV, try these activities:

  • Use blue light blocking glasses if you must use devices
  • Write in a journal instead of scrolling through social media
  • Listen to an audiobook instead of watching TV

These alternatives will help relax your mind and alleviate stress, leading to a better night's rest.

Stick to a consistent bedtime and wake-up time

Setting a consistent bedtime and wake-up time can do wonders for your sleep. Avoid staying up late on weekends, as it can disrupt your circadian rhythm, or internal body clock, and make it more difficult to fall asleep during the week.

Another key tip is to create a relaxing pre-sleep routine that helps you wind down before bed. This could involve activities mentioned earlier, like reading or taking a warm bath, while avoiding alcohol or blue light from screens in the hours leading up to bedtime. By sticking with these habits consistently, you'll train your body to associate them with sleep and improve your chances of getting restful slumber every night.

Avoid napping too much during the day

Limit your nap time to less than 30 minutes and avoid taking naps in the afternoon or evening. Napping for too long can leave you feeling groggy and disrupt your nighttime sleep routine. Instead, stay active during the day and engage in physical activity or take a walk outside to boost energy levels without resorting to caffeine or alcohol.

Keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark

Keeping your bedroom cool, quiet and dark can improve the quality of your sleep. To block out light, use blackout curtains or an eye mask. Investing in a white noise machine can help cancel out background noise that may disrupt your sleep. Lastly, set the temperature between 60-67°F for optimal sleeping conditions.

Making these changes to your sleeping environment may seem like small adjustments but they can make a huge difference in how well you rest at night. By ensuring your bedroom meets these recommendations, you'll create an atmosphere that's perfect for getting some much-needed shut-eye!

Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows

A supportive mattress that caters to your preferred sleeping position can make all the difference in how well-rested you feel in the morning. When selecting pillows, look for ones that offer neck and spine alignment to prevent discomfort or pain. Memory foam or latex mattresses are excellent options as they conform to your body, providing added comfort throughout the night. Don't underestimate investing in quality bedding - it could be just what you need to transform your sleep!

Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime

Regular exercise is crucial for a good night's sleep, but timing is everything. Try taking a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes every day to help regulate your body clock and promote deeper sleep. Yoga or stretching exercises in the morning or afternoon can also be effective in reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

It's important to find a regular exercise routine that fits your schedule and stick to it. However, avoid exercising too close to bedtime as it may interfere with falling asleep. Aim to finish any vigorous workouts at least three hours before bedtime so that you have enough time for your body temperature and heart rate to return back to normal levels.

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake

Rather than drinking caffeinated beverages, choose herbal teas like chamomile to help relax your mind and body. Cutting down on alcoholic beverages is also important especially during evenings since it makes it harder for you to enter a deep sleep cycle resulting in frequently waking up throughout the night.

Get tested for sleep disorders

Understand the symptoms of various sleep disorders, like sleep apnea. If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, it's important to get a diagnosis from your doctor. Learn about diagnostic tests, including a home sleep study or polysomnography. These tests can help determine the severity of your sleep apnea and guide treatment options.