We've all been there. Whether it's a result of work, college, travel, overthinking, or countless other reasons attributable to continual sleep deprivation, a multitude of people experience the torment of over exhaustion. While several causes may underlie a struggle or inability to get enough sleep, sometimes our habits surrounding our sleeping patterns (or, more appropriately, lack thereof) exaggerate and greatly contribute to our sleeping schedules' demise. While developing and maintaining a proper sleeping schedule is no feasible task, it is immensely important to our health. The state of our skin, mind, blood pressure, proneness to medical conditions, and numerous other aspects of the body's health are at risk when we don't get enough sleep. If a lack of sleep results from a matter of lifestyle, it may be time to address the issue at hand and try to develop some beneficial habits to bring on some sleepiness at night! Here are 12 simple ways to improve or develop a healthier sleep routine*:
1. No phone 2 hours before bed.
I'm guilty of this one myself. Sometimes, we use our phone to help wind down after a long day and get ready for bed. I even put my phone screen setting on night-time mode so the light is easier on my eyes. The fact of the matter is, using your phone before bed simply keeps your mind awake. The light is too much for your eyes, your mind doesn't really begin to wind down, and sometimes you lose track of time and scroll much longer on Twitter or Instagram than you expected. Put your phone on "Do Not Disturb", plug it in to charge it, set your alarm for the next day, and step away from it.
2. If you use your phone as an alarm, use the "Bedtime" option on your phone.
Okay, I know I just said to step away from your phone (and I still mean that!). But this feature on the phone really does help me out, I think. The alarms are much more pleasant so you are able to wake up much more peacefully rather than abruptly and suddenly. You're reminded an hour or two before you should go to bed in order to get a certain amount of hours of sleep. Your phone automatically goes on "Do Not Disturb" during your allotted sleeping time. As a morning alarm system, I appreciate it much more than simply setting a loud phone alarm!
3. Read a book before bed.
So, I'll admit, this doesn't always work. In fact, in the past, sometimes reading a really good book has been the reason I haven't fallen asleep at a reasonable hour (I have Harry Potter, The Shining, Misery, and The Lord of The Rings to thank for that). If your sleeping problems are much more complex as well, then this option may not solve the problem at hand entirely. Still, I find reading book before bed incredibly relaxing, and sometimes I do find myself slipping into fatigue as I flip each page. It's a much better option than using your phone before bed as well. Try to read a physical copy of a book (rather than on a tablet or kindle), and avoid choosing a school textbook.
4. Limit your caffeine intake past 12pm.
I, again, am guilty of this one. Anyone who knows me knows I drink far too many cups of black tea well into the night (I even drank quite a few cups of coffee a day last semester, which...was just all around a terrible idea). This definitely does not help my issues with falling asleep. If you drink coffee, try to limit the amount of cups you drink a day, and try not to have any past 12pm. If you're a tea drinker, switch to herbal throughout the day. If you're just looking to warm up a bit, try drinking hot water with lemon, mint, or simply on its own. I know it sounds weird, but I've grown to actually like it quite a bit!
5. Speaking of tea...
Drink chamomile tea before bed. Just one cup is all you need!
6. Exercise, exercise, exercise.
Yeah, I'm not wild about this one either. But I do find that after I workout, I sleep better. I'll still struggle to fall asleep, but when my body is tired, I'll at least be in bed earlier, which promotes my mind to get ready for bed sooner. Plus, it's important to exercise for various reasons other than a better sleep. Bonus!
7. Listen to calming music.
I like to listen to certain movie soundtracks (yes, it's nerdy, I know), but you can listen to anything you find calming to lull you to sleep! Youtube is always a go-to.
8. Drink cinnamon milk.
Warm milk is a classic remedy for a lack of sleepiness. This Pinterest recipe simply amps it up! I personally don't drink milk, but I might have to suck it up sometime and give this a try. You can find the recipe here!
9. Curl up with your pet!
My dog's sleepiness is contagious. Sometimes all you need to relax is your best friend!
10. Don't bring your school work to bed.
This was somewhat discussed in #3; however, I felt it was important enough to make the list on its own, as I tend to struggle with this one the most. I always bring my textbooks or school readings to bed with me, hoping that reading them before I go to bed will hit two birds with one stone: promote sleepiness while simultaneously internalizing important information. Neither is really true, unfortunately. All it does is stress me out, and I certainly don't remember as much as I'd like. Do yourself a favor, and keep your bed strictly for sleeping.
After you wake up:
11. Let in some natural light.
After waking up, my roommate and I like to open the shades and let in natural sunlight to help wake us up. It certainly helps to uplift the atmosphere in our room as well and break up that awful fluorescent lighting all dorms seem to have. Seriously, why?
12. Don't hit snooze!
Those extra 5-10 minutes in the morning of sleep you think you're getting? Nah, they're just making you late and throwing off your sleep schedule.
13. Listen to music.
Listening to energetic music while I get ready always helps prepare me for the day and start me off in a more positive mindset. It doesn't fix everything, but it certainly makes the process of getting ready more enjoyable.
14. Plan/eat a good breakfast.
For the tenth time, yeah, I'm guilty of not doing this too. Still, on the days I do eat breakfast, I find mornings and the rest of my days much better. A "good" breakfast can be taken any way depending on the day you're having; sometimes, I need to treat myself to pancakes or something a bit more unhealthy to jumpstart my day and put me in a good mood. Other mornings, I need fresh fruit or some other healthy option to boost my day. Whatever you choose, please make sure you eat a good breakfast for yourself! Treat yourself well.
There you have it!! Hopefully adopting some of these tips into your sleep routine helps you to develop or improve your current sleeping habits. Please take care of yourself and seek help from a professional if you think you may need it!
*Disclaimer: I am in no way a medical professional. These are simply some tips I find helpful or plan on trying myself to get a better sleeping schedule.