Sometimes it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep, and that’s completely understandable. Life can often get in the way of sleeping well, whether it be because of your job, a 10 page essay you need to write that’s due tomorrow, or because your partner keeps snoring and it’s like sleeping beside a buzzsaw.
Whatever the case is, we all will have those bad nights where we’re just not getting any shut-eye. Besides, we’re always looking for ways to better our sleep. So, what can we do?
We’ll discuss the best tips, tricks, and even phone apps that are quick fixes to help you improve your sleep tonight. And if those don’t work; no worries, we’ve still got you covered!
14 Tips and Tricks for Sleeping Better
There are a million tips you could find on improving sleep just by Googling “how to get better sleep,” but not everything will work for you. Nor is it all accurate.
We’ve got 14 tips and tricks (and they’re backed by science!) you can do today that will help you get a better night’s rest:
1. Give Yourself Time to Wind Down
It takes your body some time to adjust before it’s ready to go to sleep, so take that into account. The hour before you go to bed, do something relaxing that will “wind down” your body. This could be reading, listening to calming music, knitting, whatever! Just make a point to stay away from blue light emitters, like TVs, laptops, or phones. The blue light will throw off your natural circadian rhythm and keep you up longer.
2. Practice a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual
This can be tied in with the first tip, but finding something relaxing you can do before bed each night will help your body in adjusting for sleep and knowing it’s time to rest. Perhaps you want to do some yoga or meditation, take a hot bath, or listen to an audiobook before bed. Whatever works for you that you can do away from bright light so your body understands it can relax.
3. Cool Down Your Room
Temperature is everything when it comes to sleeping well. A bedroom that’s too hot or too cold can seriously mess up your sleep. Studies show that somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleep, but change up the temperature until you find the degree that’s most comfortable for you.
4. Keep the Bedroom Dark
The bedroom environment is crucial to good sleep. Not only is temperature important, but so is light. Bright lights and even glows from electronics at night can mess with your circadian rhythm and keep you awake, so make sure your room is dark. If you can’t keep all the lights in your room covered, then use an eye mask or try Black Out Curtains!
5. Turn On a Fan or Use White Noise
Finding the perfect sound level for your bedroom requires a balance. Loud noises like traffic, airplanes, or whirring electronics can easily keep you awake at night, but keeping it so quiet that you hear literally everything can be just as disruptive. The solution to this: white noise. This could be as simple as turning on a small fan, a white noise machine or you can download an app (see more down below) that gives you more specific white noise. Either way, white noise can be super helpful in distracting the mind from disruptions and helping it relax.
6. Avoid Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Heavy Meals Before Bed
Alcohol and nicotine from cigarettes can greatly disrupt your sleep. It’s best to avoid them the last few hours before bed. The same goes for eating heavy meals, which can cause indigestion and heartburn and make it harder to fall asleep. Avoid eating large meals at least two hours before bed if possible, and if you’re feeling hungry, try a lighter snack like a granola bar.
7. Avoid Caffeine in the Afternoon
The same thing for alcohol and nicotine can also be said about caffeine. Caffeine is a drug, and it stays in your bloodstream longer than you think. Having that cup of joe at 2 p.m. to get you through that afternoon meeting might hinder you from sleeping well, so try to avoid caffeine this afternoon!
8. Try Meditation or Prayer
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, this is actually a great tip that’s often overlooked! Meditation or prayer is a great way to not only sort out negative thoughts, but signal your mind to wind down and relax. It even can help slow your breathing and heart rate, allowing your body to fall asleep sooner. Trying meditation or saying a prayer a half hour or so before bed, or incorporating it into your bedtime routine, can have a significant impact on the quality of sleep you get. There are even some guided meditation apps we’ll discuss below to help you get into the swing of it.
9. Try Aromatherapy
Another fantastic tactic for relaxing: aromatherapy. Many studies have shown that the scent of lavender helps with relaxation and getting deeper sleep. Putting some lavender oil on your pillow or using lavender-scented bath salts before bed could make all the difference in your sleep!
10. Wake Up Comfortably
You might be skeptical about this one… After all, waking up is never a fun experience, right? Well, the key here is to make it a good experience. Ditch the loud, buzzing alarm clocks and look into alarm clocks that use light to wake you up slowly and comfortably. Playing some upbeat music and stretching lightly before rising is also a great way to start the day.
11. Exercise in the Morning
Regular exercise, especially in the morning, can actually prepare your body for a deeper sleep during the night. Plus, it gives you a boost of energy and improves your mood. So don’t ditch the activity — if you have to, wake up 15 minutes early to take a brisk walk or fit a quick workout in. Any exercise helps!
12. Nap, but Smartly
You might be wondering: how do I nap smartly? Well, napping for 4 hours throughout the day will ensure you’re awake for half the night and keep you from being productive during the day. But, napping done right is helpful for sleep quality and has numerous benefits. Limit your naps to 30 minutes maximum and don’t nap too close to bedtime. There are some awesome apps for timing naps as well that you’ll learn more about below.
13. If You Really Can’t Sleep… Leave the Room
Some nights, your body just won’t have it, and if that’s the case, it’s best to leave the bedroom. Don’t stay in bed on your phone or laptop doing a million different things; you want to save the bedroom for only sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. Getting out of the room and doing something else until you feel sleepy is the best thing to do during those really rough nights.
14. Finally, Don’t Stress
The more you work yourself up about sleep, the more difficult it will be to fall asleep in the first place. So don’t freak out too much about sleep quality or the amount of time you spend in bed. Try the above tips, avoid the anxiety, and you’ll be just fine!
The Best Apps to Help You Sleep at Night
So you have a few tricks for getting some better quality sleep tonight, but one thing we don’t want you to miss out on is the apps out there made for sleeping better. Here’s our top ten recommended apps to help you sleep a little better tonight:
This app is a companion to the Sleepio course, which is an evidence-based program to resolve insomnia. This program is meant to help you fall asleep faster and get a deeper sleep with minimum disruption. You can download this app on iOS for free and there is extra content available as in-app purchases.
We recommend this app to our patients who have chronic insomnia. This App is a good start to Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
2. Relax Melodies
This app comes with over 100 relaxing sounds, binaural beats, white noise, and soothing melodies that are designed to prevent insomnia. There are also guided meditations available to help improve your sleep. You can get Relax Melodies for free on iOS and Android and purchase more content if you want.
Awoken is an app designed to induce lucid dreaming, or dream awareness. This app combines journals and exercises to help induce lucid dreaming and improve your quality of sleep. If you’re interested in exploring the dreamscape and have an Android, this app is for you!
4. Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
Say goodbye to annoying alarm clocks that rudely jolt you awake. This app, which is available on both iOS and Android, records your sleep habits and awakens you during your lighter sleep. You set a window of time during which you can wake up, and the app will sense when it is best to wake you up.
5. Sleep Genius
This app is actually genius — it was created to help NASA astronauts fall asleep easier. The app uses sounds that guide your brain through a complete sleep cycle, helping you to fall asleep easily, get a higher quality of sleep, and wake up refreshed at the best time according to your sleep cycle. Sleep Genius is available on iOS and Android for $4.99 and has a variety of programs, including power naps and relaxation.
Pzizz was created using sound sequences that are designed to optimize your sleep, keeping insomnia at bay. Pzizz is available for free on iOS and Android and offers in-app purchases. You can learn more on their website.
If you’re interested in meditation, this is a good option for you. Inscape is a guided meditation app and uses sounds and music to create an atmosphere perfect for falling asleep. You can choose a focus area within the app designed to help you target the issues you want to focus on resolving. The app is free and available only on iOS, with in-app purchases available.
8. Sleep by Headspace
Another option for meditation: Sleep by Headspace. Headspace is a guided meditation app available on both iOS and Android. It has basic meditation courses available for free, but in order to access the Sleep section, you’ll need a subscription. Subscriptions are $12.99 a month or you could pay for a year at a discounted price of $94.99. Sleep by Headspace offers sleep sounds and guided meditations to help you wind down and get deep, refreshing sleep. It also has created “sleepcasts” that use both sound and visualizations to help you get the best sleep possible.
9. White Noise
We mentioned earlier that white noise can be incredibly helpful in falling asleep. White Noise is a sleep app available for free on Android and iOS that offers a variety of soothing sounds, including ocean waves, thunder, crackling fire, and even the inside of an airplane that can help you fall into a deep and restful sleep.
10. Sleep Time
Our last app recommendation is certainly not the least! This app offers personalized sleep analysis that helps you track your sleep cycles and detailed reports of your sleep. It also has a sleep phase alarm clock to wake you up comfortably and soundscapes to help you fall asleep easier. Sleep Time is free for iOS and Android, but offers extra purchases to maximize your use of the app!
If Your Sleep Still Isn’t Any Better…
It’s clear that there’s a total plethora of apps and tricks you can use or do to get better sleep, but sometimes they’re just not enough, or your sleep struggles are more problematic than you think.
Sleep-disordered breathing and chronic snoring are both primary reasons for insufficient sleep, so if you’re doing everything possible to get a good night’s rest and are still struggling, we recommend you get your sleep checked out. At Advanced Sleep Centers of Virginia, we have a team of highly-trained sleep professionals ready to help you get the best night’s sleep possible.
Your comfort is our first priority, which is why we offer at-home sleep tests, online scheduling, and a secure telemedicine portal where you can contact a professional at any point. Keep in mind that using one of the apps mentioned above, or the app Snorelab, to track and analyze your sleep for a few nights is a great way to prepare for your appointment.
We want you to get ideal sleep so you can be the best you possible. If you’re struggling to sleep well and it’s hindering you, don’t let it control you anymore! Schedule an appointment online or call us today at (703) 689-2480 for a free consultation.