Stop snacking in bed
Noshing in bed is not great for getting for sleeping. "Eating in the bedroom, especially right before bedtime, can be very disruptive to sleep," says Robert I. Danoff, DO, family physician and program director, Aria Health System. Salt-filled snacks could make you thirsty, drinking too much fluid prior to bedtime may cause extra trips to the bathroom, and any caffeine within four hours of sleep may keep you awake or cause disrupted sleep. Caffeine can also make you feel anxious and jittery. (These are signs you may be consuming too much caffeine.) Eating before bed is also one of many nighttime habits that can lead to weight gain.
Listen to these grown-up lullabies
Even if our parents couldn't carry a tune, a lullaby was a soothing way to get us to sleep. They knew then what Mindlab International recently found out: that certain kinds of music can help you sleep by promoting calm and relaxation. Hong Kong researchers recently found that people who listened to music with a certain tempo (60 to 80 beats per minute) for 30 to 45 minutes before bed every night for three months fell asleep more quickly, slept more deeply, and felt better in the morning. Here's a list of the best songs to help you sleep, according to science.
Put it in neutral
Ever watch a dog before he lays down to sleep? He circles for a bit, lands, adjusts his position a few times and finally heads to snooze town. He must know what his neutral position is. "Just as important as quantity of sleep is quality of sleep, and a large aspect of this is posture," says Param Dedhia, MD director of Sleep Medicine at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. "A neutral spine can be on the back and it can be on the side. The positioning with pillows is key. When our body is neutral with an aligned spine, it allows our musculoskeletal and neurological system to be with less twisting, pushing and pulling. Neck, shoulder, low back and hip pain are less aggravated with a neutral spine," says Dr. Dedhia. Even when you shift positions in the night, you can still maintain a neutral position by using your pillow to readjust and align the spine to be more comfy. Make your bed cozy for a restful night of zzz's with these tips. Here are 13 secrets for better sleep doctors want you to know.
Start taking magnesium
If you want to improve your sleep tonight, you may want to consider a magnesium boost. A magnesium deficiency can contribute to insomnia and other health problems. The RDA for magnesium for adults ranges from 360 mg to 420 mg, depending on sex and age. Talk to your doctor about whether a supplement is right for you. Here's why magnesium might be key to protecting your bones.
Try some reverse psychology
If you want to fall asleep faster, think about staying awake. (Here's how to stop tossing and turning all night.) "It sounds counter intuitive, but for those who find it difficult to sleep because they keep worrying about not falling asleep, do the opposite," says Sujay Kansagra, MD, director of Duke University's Sleep Medicine program and Mattress Firm's sleep health consultant. Most of the time falling asleep is an involuntary process that takes virtually no effort on our part but if we're anxious, we do things like looking at the clock and calculating how little sleep we're going to get, which then causes sleep performance anxiety. "Instead of worrying about falling asleep, think about staying awake instead. This often lessens anxiety and gives your mind a chance to relax enough to fall asleep. It's a technique known as paradoxical intent, a cognitive behavioral therapy technique used to lessen the anxiety around falling asleep. (Cognitive behavioral therapy can help treat seasonal depression, too!)
Kick your pooch out of bed
If you're having trouble sleeping and have checked off the common culprits, the answer could be co-sleeping with your furry friend. "The movements and breathing of a pet may be somewhat distracting and disrupt falling back to sleep," says Mark Buchfuhrer, MD, FRCP(C), FCCP, FAASM, medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. "In addition, patients with allergies to pets may have increased allergic symptoms such as runny nose or nasal congestion that may interfere with sleep." Watch out for these other bad insomnia habits that are keeping you up.
Go for the ear plugs or sleeping mask
Making your bedroom the ultimate sleep oasis isn't too difficult with a few simple tips. Dr. Buchfuhrer has a nifty check list to make it happen: Random noises can interrupt light sleepers. Ear plugs or white noise from a fan can help keep a constant hum going. We've all heard by now about how "blue light" from our devices, TV's and other electronics can mess with melatonin production, a sleep hormone. "Avoid watching LCD TV or computer screens for a few hours before bedtime as they emit higher frequencies of light similar to daylight." Dr. Buchfuhrer suggests downloading FLUX to adjust your computer screen to emit light that is appropriate for the time of day. Blackout curtains and sleeping masks are essential if you suspect your suspect light is keeping your awake. You may even want to switch out your bulbs tonight and try The Good Night® LED light bulb. Regular bulbs suppress melatonin but these bulbs filter out the "blue light," which could help you fall asleep faster. (Here are some other things you should do all day long to sleep better.)
Write it out
Ahhh...your head finally hits the pillow and you let out a soft yawn before you drift off to...task alert! Worry alert! Chores alert! Work alert! If you want to fall asleep faster tonight, try Dr. Kansagra's suggestion and create a list of tasks, worries, chores or whatever is keeping your awake. This technique is ideal for those who mentally work through their list of pending responsibilities before bed. You can prevent yourself from thinking about it excessively just before bed," says Dr. Kansagra. If all these sleep tips don't work, try the tricks that worked for these former insomniacs.