Like most humans, I don’t get enough sleep. Every morning, I wake up groggy and cranky and newly determined to change my night owl ways. Every night, I fail, and the cycle of exhaustion begins once more.
Try as I might, one thing or another always seems to keep me up way past my bedtime — but it doesn’t have to be this way. Lately, the Internet has become fascinated with the science of sleep: Both how we can get the most out of it and how we can get more of it. Of course, multiple factors affect our sleeping habits — stress, caffeine intake, Tumblr addiction — but as it turns out, there are little things we can all do that make it easier to hit the proverbial hay.
Here are just a few of our favorite tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
Take your shower/bath at night
Personally, I prefer to shower in the morning — but apparently, one of the benefits of taking a hot shower/bath at night is that it helps with sleep. As we fall asleep, we lose body heat; and during sleep, our body temperature drops 1 to 2°F. Some studies report that by mimicking this cooling process (i.e., leaving a hot bath for your freezing bedroom), you can help induce sleepiness. What’s up, science?
Keep your feet outside of the covers
According to New York Mag‘s Science of Us, keeping one or both feet outside of the blanket can have a similar effect in bringing on the sleepy feels. As the article explains, our feet (and hands) are unique because they, “contain specialized vascular structures that help with heat loss.” In particular, they contain arteriovenous anastomoses — blood vessels that are “perfectly designed to help dissipate body heat.”
However, there seems to be some debate about this one in the science world, and some reports actually recommend wearing socks to bed to get a good night’s rest. Depending on how hot/cold you run, adjust accordingly.
Use F.lux to reduce artificial light on your electronics
Browsing Instagram might be a mindless way to unwind after a long day, but the light on your phone screen can cause you to have a less restful night. F.lux software adjusts your computer and phone’s display according to the time of day so it’s way less straining on your eyes!
. . . And shut everything down an hour before bed
We know it might be hard to imagine a waking moment away from our phones or laptops, but shutting down all screens at least an hour before bed is proven to result in better quality sleep.
Set a bedtime alarm
Time flies when you’re scrolling through social media, and sometimes an extra nudge to shut down can be super helpful to keep track. We set an alarm to wake us up in the morning; so why not have one that tells us when to go to sleep? Bonus hack: I’ve found setting two alarms at night — one to remind me to shut down/get ready for bed and one for actually going to sleep — to be even more effective.
Try a sleep cycle app
Every person’s sleep cycle is a little different, and these apps aim to wake you up when you’re at the lightest part of yours. (So you don’t start your day off ridiculously grumpy.) It also reports on the quality of your sleep, and let’s you self-report what factors might have affected it.
Calculate your ideal bedtime
Most apps can help you calculate this, but for those of us who don’t have room for another app in our lives, use sleepyti.me. If you input when you need to wake up, it’ll give you the best times for you to fall asleep.
Put a lavender pouch in your pillow
Relaxing scents are just that: Relaxing. Set the mood in your room by adding a little lavender to your life.
Do some breathing exercises
Deep, focused breathing can help you unwind and relax after a long day. Some breathing exercises even claim they can help you fall asleep in a minute flat!
Keep a notepad on your bedside table
When you’re ready to go to bed but your brain is still racing a mile a minute, write down what’s troubling you. Getting it out on paper helps ease your mind, and everything you need to tackle will be in one place come tomorrow morning.
Only use your bed for sleep and sexy times
Your bedroom is your sacred space — and keeping it sacred will help you get into a relaxing state of mind when it’s time to go to sleep.
(Image via Shutterstock.)