While you’ve likely seen plenty of sleep remedies on the pharmacy shelf, you can get more sleep the natural way by just implementing a few simple steps:
1. Cut back on caffeine.
This one may be painful, but you can do it with the right support. “My patients who are chronically sleep deprived typically reach for caffeine and medications to help with the afternoon energy crash,” Dinenberg says. “However, these substances interfere with our ability to get good quality sleep that night, so it becomes a self-perpetuating, vicious cycle.” To increase your odds of a good night’s sleep, limit your caffeine intake to 250 mg per day (the size of a tall Starbucks order) and switch to decaf or water later in the day.
2. Create a good sleep environment.
There are plenty of ways to make your bedroom more restful: blackout curtains and an eye mask can help you stay in the dark, and keeping the temperature below 67 degrees will give your body the chance to cool down, a natural sign that it’s time to sleep. Lastly, consider your bedroom a sanctuary for sex and sleep by removing any distractions — that includes TV!
3. Power down your devices or wear protective glasses.
The best thing you can do to sleep well is to shut down all electronics two hours before bedtime. Laptops, tablets and phones emit blue light, which lowers your levels of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. But if that’s totally unrealistic, consider getting a pair of blue-light blocking glasses to limit your exposure.
4. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week.
Studies show that simple physical activity, like walking for 150 minutes per week, can help people with insomnia get to sleep faster. “For many of my patients, the combination of increasing daily exercise and creating a ritual around going to sleep is a very successful first step in improving quality and quantity of sleep,” Dinenberg says.
5. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it every day.
Here’s where you have to be a little strict with yourself. Sticking to a sleep schedule isn’t just important during the workweek — it’s critical on the weekends too. That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to rise and shine at 6 a.m. on Saturdays, but resist the urge to sleep in more than an extra hour or two and keep late-night partying in check as much as possible.
6. Draw a hot bath before bed.
Not only is it a relaxing nighttime ritual, but taking a hot bath will boost your body temperature. When you dry off, you’ll quickly cool down, which can help bring on that drowsy feeling.
7. Try meditation or deep breathing to calm your mind.
Rather than counting sheep, try focusing on your breath for 20 minutes before bed. Not sure how to meditate?