1. Keep a regular routine
Keep a regular routine for both bedtime and wake-up time. Wake up at the same time every morning and try to go to bed around the same time each night, even on weekends and days off. It is important to get in this habit to set your body’s internal clock so you will begin to naturally know when to go to sleep and when to wake up.
2. Expose yourself to light in the morning and darkness at night
Make sure you are exposed to bright light in the morning and darkness at night. Try getting 20-30 minutes of sunlight throughout the day. Limit using technology before bed. The blue glow from your computer, cell phone, television, and digital alarm clock can keep you up at night. Make sure you power down your electronics before you head to bed, ideally 1 hour before you go to sleep.
3. Don’t force yourself to sleep
If you haven’t fallen asleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something calming. Read a book, draw, or write in a journal. Avoid computer, TV, and phone screens, or anything else that’s stimulating and could lead to becoming more awake.
4. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before bedtime
Consuming caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime and consuming them excessively throughout the day can affect your ability to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep. Remember caffeine can stay in your body for up to 12 hours, and even decaf coffee has some caffeine.
5. Avoid excessive napping
Napping during the day will make sleep more difficult at night. Naps that are over an hour long, or those that are later in the day, are especially harmful to sleep hygiene. If you have to nap, limit daytime naps to 30 minutes or less.
6. Use your bed only for sleep and intimacy
If your body learns to associate your bed with sleep, you’ll start to feel tired as soon as you lie down. Using your phone or computer, watching TV, working, or doing other waking activities in bed can heave the opposite effect, causing you to become more alert.
7. Exercise and eat well
A healthy diet and exercise can lead to better sleep. However, avoid strenuous exercise and big meals for 2 hours before going to bed. Even exercising for 10 minutes a day such as walking, cycling or yoga can help promote good sleep. Stay away from foods that can be disruptive right before sleep such as heavy or rich food, spicy dishes, citrus fruits and carbonated drinks that can trigger indigestion. Eat a small, light snack – such as cereal or yogurt – or drink a glass of warm milk before bed.
8. Sleep in a comfortable environment
It’s important to sleep in an area that’s adequately quiet, cool, dark, and comfortable. Dim your lights about 2 to 3 hours before bedtime and try using an eye mask or black out curtains while you sleep. To limit external noise use ear plugs or white noise if necessary. Keep it cool in your bedroom with fans or AC, maintain a temperature around 65 degrees. Your mattress, pillows and bedding should be clean and comfortable. It helps to make your bed at the start of the day to come back to a well-made, inviting bed at night.
9. Empty your mind
De-clutter your mind by writing down your to-do list and worries, so you mentally free your mind for sleep. Keep the journal by your bed so you can write down anything that comes to mind. Avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before bed.
Relax with a warm bath, easy reading, soothing music, and light stretching. Meditation can also be a good way to relax before sleep.