Remember the days when you could drift off in minutes, ‘sleep like a baby,’ and enjoy the nightly escape without worry or effort? Does sleep now seem infinitely harder to come by? For many people the answer to that question is yes. Indeed, some nights, a good sleep can be elusive, if not impossible. For others, sleep, getting enough, and doing it well, isn’t that big of a deal. Why do they have it so easy? What do they know that you don’t? Well, successful sleepers don’t have superpowers, but they do engage in the regular practice of what you might call good sleep ‘hygiene,’ a series of smart, healthy habits that set them up every night for restorative, refreshing sleep.

If you want to join the winning sleepy-time team, then take a few tips from those who play the game and win – night after night:

Go to bed when you’re tired.

Babies get over-tired and impossible to soothe, and adults do, too, so successful sleepers hit the hay when they start to feel sleepy, instead of trying to ‘push through.’ When you ignore your body’s natural, starting-to-feel-sleepy signals so you can stay up later, tossing and turning at night and a cranky morning are virtually guaranteed.

Don’t eat your evening meals too late.

To stay in sync with their sleep-inducing rhythms, successful sleepers eat dinner at least two to three hours before bedtime, so digestion is winding down as the rest of their bodies are winding down for bed.

Avoid sugar, particularly at night.

Sugar will jack you up in the evening, so skip it. Instead of a late-night snack, successful sleepers snack on a spoonful of almond butter to stabilize blood sugar and prevent middle-of-the-night blood sugar dips which can cause wakefulness.

Avoid alcohol close to bedtime.

Booze will often induce drowsiness but it’s still a net loss because it tends to delay the onset of REM sleep, the most restorative kind. Successful sleepers limit themselves to one drink, and have it at least three hours before bedtime so their bodies can process the alcohol. You can also try adding a bit of tart cherry juice to your wine glass. It contains a small amount of sleep-starting melatonin.

Banish tech from the bedroom.

Successful sleepers leave their screens at the door, meaning, they keep TVs, laptops, tablets, smart phones and glowing tech out of the bedroom. All those blue-light-beaming devices tell brains to wake up when they should be winding down, so banish screens of any kind. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex.

Put your wi-fi router on a timer.

Successful sleepers limit the temptation to go online before bed by cutting the wi-fi at night – and you should do the same. Doing so will also help protect you from sleep-disruptive electromagnetic frequencies, enabling you to rest easier and healthier.

Sleep in a very dark room.

Blackout curtains or shades are a successful sleepers best friend, when it comes to keeping out sleep-disruptive light, be it from streetlights or the rising sun. A less expensive alternative: a good eye mask that stays on while you sleep.

Keep it cool at night.

Research shows that everyone tends to sleep better in a room that’s set to roughly 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. When you sleep, your body temperature naturally drops. A cooler room can help you get there, so crack the window and snuggle under a warmer blanket. In summer, keep the bedroom on the cooler side and wear socks to keep feet warm without raising your core temperature.

Work it out with your partner.

Successful sleepers indulge in a good mattress. If your partner wakes you by moving around a lot at night, consider investing in a good mattress with minimal “transference” of movement. If snoring is an issue, ear plugs and a white noise machine can help, as well as gently supporting the snorer to look into possible causes such as food sensitivities, allergies, alcohol consumption and weight gain.

Use a no-glow, alternative alarm clock.

Successful sleepers don’t bother with ultra-bright, ultra-loud digital alarm clocks. They make time with non-glowing, blue light-free ‘wake-up light’ alarms that gradually illuminate, mimicking the dawn, to wake them gently and naturally. Another option is to try a chime alarm that increases in volume from subtle to loud, like the one made by Now & Zen, so you can rise and shine in a non-stressful way.

Don’t go to sleep angry.

Successful sleepers disallow fearful, angry, or resentful thinking after lights-out. These thoughts literally “switch on” the stress response and trigger cortisol release (the hormone of alertness and hyper-vigilance). A positive affirmation or a gratitude practice can create an inhospitable environment for negative thinking and boost feelings of well-being, which in turn make drifting off into a peaceful slumber so much easier!

Adapted from my book,  How To Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life.


10 Daily Habits to Live to 100

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