Ah, sleep. It should be easy—all you have to do it lie there. But it’s surprisingly common to have trouble falling asleep, to experience periods of restless, and to wake up feeling just as tired as you did when your head first hit the pillow. Luckily, there are things you can do today to help you get a better night’s rest tonight.
6 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight
Cut back on caffeine and sugar. If your day is laced with soda, energy drinks and sugary lattes, you might not be sleeping well—and it might not just be the caffeine. According to a recent study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, those who get five or less hours of sleep each night also tend to consume drinks full of caffeine and sugar each day.
Take a brisk walk. According to research published in the Journal of Physiotherapy, doing four 30- to 40-minute power walks a week has been shown to help people with insomnia sleep longer and wake up more refreshed than those who don’t exercise.
Turn everything off. Overhead lights seem obvious, but have you given any thought to your devices? The blue light emitted by certain TVs and some tablets have been shown to suppress sleep-inducing hormones. And if you’re viewing an especially violent episode, one study reports the movie or program you’re watching could lead to trouble falling asleep and nightmares. Power down the electronics at least 30 minutes before you hit the sack to give your brain time to unwind.
Skip the nightcap. That glass of vino might help you unwind after a stressful day, but alcohol can have a negative impact on your sleep cycle. It causes you to feel drowsy initially, then leads to wake-ups later as it’s processed by your body. Other liquids can be problematic, too. “If you’re drinking a lot of water before going to bed, it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to wake up to use the bathroom at some point during the night,” says Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, a Fitbit sleep advisor and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
Ditch your blankets. They might seem cozy, but those covers could be hindering for your sleep. Research shows cooler temps are more ideal because they trigger “It’s sleepy time!” messages in your brain, which ease you into slumber and help you sleep more soundly. Kick off the covers and set the thermostat to between 65 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, or to 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit if you can’t give up your blankie.
Track your zzz’s. A heart rate-tracking enabled Fitbit device, like Fitbit Alta HR, Fitbit Blaze and Fitbit Charge 2, can automatically track your sleep and estimate the amount of time you spend awake and in light, deep and REM sleep each night. Once you’ve logged a few nights, you’ll be able to see patterns that can tip you off. Maybe you’re not going to bed early enough to get the hours you need. Maybe you’re restless at the exact same time every night. And you can compare your stats to others to see how your sleep habits measure up.
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