We spend one third of our lives asleep. Like eating and drinking, slumber is absolutely crucial to our survival, and enough quality sleep is a key component of good health. However, some of us experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. This is not only incredibly frustrating, but can also interfere with our daily lives and health. Fortunately, there are a few habits we can adopt that can improve the amount and quality of sleep we get each night.
1. Reduce Screen Time At Night
We’ve all heard "no TV/computer before bedtime" before. This phrase is best known as a useful tool to get the little ones to bed at a reasonable hour, but it’s beneficial for our own sleep as well. Our bodies’ circadian rhythms are partially influenced by light — if it’s bright outside, our eyes take in more light, so our brain thinks it’s time to be awake.
Computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices give off a high amount of light, which can actually trick our brains into thinking it’s still time to be awake if we use them at night. So it’s best to avoid using our phones for as long as possible before bed. A popular technique is to put the phone and computer away for, say, one hour before bedtime each night. If this isn’t an option, using dark mode can help as well. If our brain isn’t tricked into thinking it’s daytime outside, it’ll be easier for us to fall asleep.
2. Use Your Bed Only To Sleep
This is a simple one: ideally, your bed should be for sleeping, and that’s it. As appealing as it is to lie in bed for a while before going to sleep or after waking up, this can reduce the quality of our sleep. Essentially, if all you do in your bed is sleep, then your brain associates your bed with a place to sleep. But if you, for instance, watch TV or read or scroll through your phone on your bed, your brain associates your bed with a place to be awake.
The less time you spend awake in your bed, the more your brain will view it as a place to sleep, and the easier it’ll be to fall asleep. While this habit can be challenging to form, it really is worth it — it’s best to get out of bed as soon as you wake up, and to get into bed only when you’re ready to actually go to sleep.
3. Try A Sleep Supplement
Perhaps the most effortless method of all is supplementation. A few different minerals found in our bodies -- such as melatonin, GABA, and glutathione -- are known to play a key role in our ability to fall and stay asleep. But sometimes we can use a little extra help, which is where supplementation comes into play. Manna Liposomal Sleep Complex contains a powerful blend of these nutrients, all three of which have been shown to improve sleep (1, 2, 3). Supplements on their own can certainly help, and combining them with other techniques should produce even better results!*
4. Get Moving
Sometimes, it’s hard for us to fall asleep simply because we aren’t all that tired. If this is a frequent occurrence for you, perhaps exercising can help. Incorporating some form of exercise during the day can make us more tired at night and help us fall asleep more easily.
Of course, not all of us have the time or resources to exercise in the same way, but something as simple as a long walk or a bit of stretching at night can do wonders. If you can squeeze physical activity into your daily routine, you’ll probably see the benefit when it comes time for bed.
5. Keep A Consistent Routine
Earlier, we mentioned the term "circadian rhythm," which is another way of saying "body clock." Our body likes this clock to be reset as rarely as possible. If we wake up, eat, and go to sleep at the time every day, our body will start to adapt to this routine. We’ll awaken, feel hungry, and fall asleep at the same time every day. Over time, we’ll require less and less effort to fall asleep and to wake up in the morning. Of course, this is easier said than done for many of us, but we can at least try to be as consistent as possible. It's best when that schedule involves an early wake-up and sleep time.
6. Have Some Wind Down Time
Going from awake to asleep at the drop of a hat isn't something most of us are capable of. Our body needs time to wind down before bed and prepare for rest. If you feel your brain is on rapid fire, thinking of your to-do list, or worries at bedtime could mean you may need to get a few things off your mind before you're ready for sleep. Rather than ruminating over them all night, try starting an evening journal. Putting those concerns or even your grocery list down on paper at night can help greatly in clearing your mind for bed.
7. Reduce Caffeine And Alcohol Use
Drinking caffeine later in the day is one of the top culprits of poor sleep quality. We all crave that 2 pm coffee or soda when our energy levels start to dwindle as a quick fix, but studies show that consuming caffeine after as early as 10 am can be a major sleep disruptor. This can turn into a not so fun cycle. You are unable to sleep, so you are tired during your day, you drink coffee to stay awake, but that can make sleep harder to achieve. Starting the cycle all over again.
Alcohol may aid with sleep onset due to its sedative properties, allowing you to fall asleep more quickly. However, people who drink before bed often experience disruptions later in their sleep cycle as liver enzymes metabolize alcohol. Meaning you never hit the restful REM state of sleep and wake up feeling tired and worn down.
Try one week of no caffeine after 10 am and no alcohol after 6 pm and see how your body responds. Combined with the other tips, it may be enough to break the cycle of poor sleep!
In conclusion, we can take advantage of quite a few different strategies to improve our sleep. If you incorporate some or all of these techniques into your daily life, chances are you’ll start to fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep more easily, and wake up feeling more refreshed. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t notice a huge change right away — the effect is gradual, and before you know it you’ll be sleeping far better.