Lower the lights before bed
Electric light between dusk and bedtime can impact sleep because it suppresses melatonin levels, a hormone that regulates sleep and waking cycles. Although it is difficult to avoid electric light from dusk to bedtime, especially in the summer, it is helpful to be mindful of this to some extent. This is a natural way to start winding your body down to prepare for sleep.
“Falling asleep isn’t like flicking a switch. We don’t put our heads on the pillow and fall off to sleep,” said Allison G. Harvey, a sleep specialist and professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. “We take time to wind down at night. If we’ve got bright light conditions, we’re not giving ourselves a chance to get off to sleep and stay asleep.”
An hour before bed, try lowering the lighting. This might involve turning on dim lamps, using a dimmer switch on a ceiling fixture, or even lighting a candle.
Avoid the computer and television before bed
Although light sensitivity varies by individual, staring at a screen before bed can have a similar impact to electric lighting. Television and the internet can also show things that are disruptive, startling, or disturbing to the viewer as well. Ideally, it is best to avoid television and computer after dusk, but at least avoiding them for an hour before bed is a good step.
Cease caffeine use in the afternoon
Caffeine has approximately a six-hour half-life. When people drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks more regularly, the coffee has less impact than it does for someone who uses caffeine infrequently. You are the best judge of whether caffeine is impacting your sleep, so it is important to pay attention to the impact of afternoon and evening caffeine use. It can make it take longer for you to fall asleep and may make it harder to get into a deep sleep.
Avoid disturbing conversations or thoughts before bed
The quality of your sleep is likely to improve if you avoid disturbing conversations and worrisome thoughts just before bed. Whenever possible, save such conversations for another time, so unhappy thoughts don’t creep into dreamland.
Find relaxing evening activities
If you aren’t watching television, arguing, and spending time around bright lights, what is there left to do? It is helpful to find restful bedtime activities, such as a gentle yoga routine, meditation, or taking a candlelit bath.
Left nostril breathing can be especially relaxing. You can either sit cross-legged or lie down and press your right thumb against the side of your nose, closing your right nostril. Take long deep breaths, both inhaling and exhaling through your nose, which produces a calming effect.
Go to bed at the same time each night
It can be tempting to stay up late on weekends, but it actually impacts the quality of your sleep. This is especially important for people with sleep problems. Creating a sleep routine helps signal your body that it is time to rest. Some sleep experts even recommend waking at the same time each morning to optimize the quality of your sleep.