(Victor Vallay)–Exercise. It won’t just help you get fit, it will help you sleep better. When you exercise, you increase your internal body temperature. In fact, the post-workout cooling down process makes you sleepier, given that right before sleep, your body expels heat to help you shut down. Interestingly, exercising outside in the cold isn’t as beneficial because it’s a zero-sum gain, heat-wise.
Quiet the Noise. If you live only a thin wall away from neighbors (or a partner who snores!), excess noise is keeping you from getting quality rest. A pair of $3 drug store earplugs can eliminate outside and inside noise and help you feel more rested in the morning.
Get Great Lighting. Too much exposure to light before bed can keep your body from entering a restful state and may prevent you from remaining asleep for long enough. Keep lights dim at night and don’t sleep with the light on. You may even consider wearing an eye mask as one Chinese study found that earplugs and eye masks worn during sleep increases the levels of melatonin produced in the body.
Take a Bath. As is also the case with exercise, once you leave the bath your internal temperature cools down, giving your body the hint that it’s time to catch some ZZZs. Furthermore, hot water relieves tension and the pressure that gravity places on the joints and muscles.
Ban the Electronics. You may love watching Netflix in your boxers, but according to The National Sleep Foundation, electronics are a no-go in the bedroom. Just like overhead lighting, the glow of your iPad, laptop, or the TV messes with your circadian rhythms. Your best bet is to teach your brain to associate your bed with sleep.
Time Your Caffeine. Caffeinated beverages can hinder sleep for up to 6 hours after you drink them. On the other hand, foods containing the amino acid tryptophan increase your serotonin levels and serve as a natural sedative(7). Foods high in tryptophan include red meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, soybeans, tuna, shellfish, and turkey. So gobble them up if you want to get totally “trypt” out.
Have a Drink. Try this ancient recipe: warm milk, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of cardamom. Milk contains tryptophan, which, as stated earlier in this article, is a great sleep aid. This is why so many folk remedies include warm milk. Try it out, you will feel like a sleep bug snug in a rug.
Set a Bedtime. Researchers conducted a study on college students with inconsistent weekend sleeping habits. Subjects who pulled all-nighters on Saturday or Sunday found it difficult to sleep the rest of the week. Your brain needs consistency. You create patterns of sleep just like you acquire all of your good and bad habits. In fact, a consistent bedtime can help you train your brain to be its own alarm clock.
Fall for Soft Rock. Save Megadeth for getting ready in the morning and spin Mumford & Sons at night instead. The calmer music, the better. Researchers conducted a study on older individuals listening to soft, calm music before bed and found that it significantly improved their quality of sleep.