How to Change Your Sleep Habits for the Better

By Emma Forbes

Changing Your Lifestyle for Quality Sleep.

The quality of your sleep starts with healthy habits. A predictable schedule, calming activities, and a relaxed mind are all positive influences on your body’s ability to find sleep.

If you feel that falling asleep is difficult for you, some of the following tips may be helpful. Remember, don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself if falling asleep is difficult. That will only produce stress and anxiety–both of which are not helpful to your sleep cycle! So take a deep breath, try to relax, and focus on finding serenity in your mind and physical body.

Managing Stress is Key to Achieving Restful Sleep.

Learning about relaxation techniques is a great investment for managing stress. Popular methods include guided imagery, writing your thoughts in a journal, looking at peaceful visuals, listening to calming music, yoga, and meditation. Being highly stressed for long periods of time has many noticeable effects on your body and mind. And stress can definitely interfere with the quality of your sleep.

Listen to your body when it tells you to slow down or take a break.

Factors That Prevent or Delay Sleep:

  • Physical exercise is an important factor that many people overlook. Walking or exercising for at least 30 minutes is enough to prepare your body for a deep rest at night. Try to do this 4 – 7 days a week. Avoiding exercise doesn’t just affect your physical body; your mind is just as affected. Moving and exerting your body releases feel-good chemicals from your brain that regulate positive thoughts and relieve stress.
  • If nighttime sleep is evading you, DO NOT take naps during the day or in the evening.
  • As mentioned above, intense intervals of stress can wreak havoc on your sleep. Try any of the suggested methods above to relax your mind and prepare it for sleep.
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks can all delay your body’s ability to fall asleep. Avoid or cut these out and measure what effects this has on your quality of sleep.
  • If you are taking any medicines, diet pills, herbs, or supplements, talk to your healthcare provider about the effects they may have on your sleep.

Develop a Healthy Nighttime Sleep Routine.

  • Stay away from bright screens and devices 1.5 hours before your scheduled sleep time.
  • Calming, relaxing activities before bedtime helps to settle an over-active mind. Try reading, meditating, or taking a bath.
  • Waking up at the same time each day greatly improves your body’s ability to fall into a deep sleep at scheduled intervals.
  • On the flip side, going to bed around the same time every day also helps. Just ensure you are planning to wake up in 8 hours or less, as oversleeping can throw your body and mind off.
  • Avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol in the evening.
  • Many people find that avoiding heavy meals at least 2 hours before going to sleep helps lull their bodies to sleep faster. When your metabolism is working overtime, you are feeding your body more energy than it needs to sleep peacefully.
  • Avoid activity that increases your heart rate for the 2 hours before going to bed.
  • Make sure your sleep area is quiet, dark, and is at a temperature you like. You may want to try devices like the BedJet to help regulate the exact temperature of your bed throughout your sleep.
  • If you cannot fall asleep within 45  minutes, get up, move to another room and try a relaxing activity to lull your mind to sleep. Don’t watch the clock too much or be hard on yourself if you aren’t able to fall asleep. Everyone has their “off” nights when finding sleep evades us.

How Much Sleep is Enough?

Those who have insomnia are often worried about getting enough sleep. The more they try to sleep, the more frustrated and upset they get, and the harder it becomes to sleep.

While 7 to 8 hours a night is recommended for most people, children and teenagers need more. Older people tend to do fine with less sleep at night. But they may still need about 8 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period.

Keep in mind that the quality of sleep and how rested you feel afterward is just as important as how much sleep you get.

When to Seek Professional Help

Sometimes chronic issues with establishing a healthy sleep cycle are signs that you need guidance from a professional. Don’t put off seeking help if any of the following apply to you:

  • Feelings of sadness or depression for long periods of time.
  • Pain or discomfort is keeping you awake.
  • Prescribed medicine is keeping you awake or presenting other negative side effects.
  • Un-prescribed medicines, for sleep or otherwise, is having negative side effects on you.