Alongside exercising and eating well, adequate sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health. We all know that seven to eight hours each evening is ideal, but with so many daily stresses and things to get done, falling asleep and staying asleep can be way more difficult than it ought to be. If you’ve already tried turning off your phone two hours before you climb into bed, or counting backwards from 300, one or all of these 7 easy things to try for better sleep may be perfect for you.
Try a supplement.
Valerian, melatonin, theanine, and more—there are plenty of natural compounds available that can help make the process of falling and staying asleep a little bit easier. Unlike prescription sleeping pills, which are often habit-forming and have adverse side effects, these natural supplements get the job done without messing with your body chemistry. While totally safe and generally effective, they don’t have the same level of efficacy on everyone, but they’re certainly worth giving a shot.
Eat cheese and crackers.
You heard us! Cheese and whole-grain crackers make a great bedtime snack—the whole grains help to produce serotonin, while dairy products, including cheese, contain tryptophan, which is the same amino acid present in turkey that makes the whole family pass out post-Thanksgiving feast. The carbs help to make the tryptophan more accessible to the brain, so a snack that contains both carbohydrates and dairy is ideal for, well, putting you to sleep.
Download an app.
It’s fairly common knowledge that the blue light from phones, TVs, and the like are detrimental to our sleep functions, but there’s two sides to every coin—don’t underestimate the positive ways in which technology can affect your awareness of health and sleep. Sleep Genius is our favorite by far: It was developed following research that investigated how to get NASA astronauts to better fall asleep, and its seriously smart features help to find your ideal bedtime based on your body’s sleep cycles.
Exercise, but do it at the right time.
Exercising is critical for proper sleep habits, but working out at night within a few hours before you intend to head to bed can actually rev your body up rather than cool it down. Morning exercise is optimal, but if the only time you’ve got is in the few hours before bed, then it’s better than nothing at all. Just give yourself time to wind down with a calming routine before you hit the sack.
Adjust the temperature.
The temperature in your room can make or break your ability to get a proper night’s rest. Studies have shown that the “best” temp for sleeping is around 65 degrees, which may sound a bit chilly, but a cooler room is actually ideal.
It sounds totally insane at first, but the alternative “tapping” therapy involved with Emotional Freedom Techniques has proven successful for anxiety sufferers and insomniacs alike. It involves using your fingers to tap at various points on the body in a specific rhythm and order. Interested? There are plenty of YouTube videos available to teach you the right way to use EFT for best results.
There’s something to be said for a rejuvenating nap, but there’s a science to power napping rather than simply crashing on the couch after a long day. A short nap anywhere from 10-20 minutes is ideal to prevent yourself from falling into deeper REM sleep, which results in “sleep inertia,” the groggy, half-awake feeling that often follows sleep. The key is to keep it short and sweet to optimize the beneficial effects of a nap, rather than cause it to slow you down.
Read more from Daily Makeover: What Your Sleeping Position Can Reveal About You