Between caring for the kids, cleaning the house, and maintaining professional responsibilities, sleep can start to seem like a luxury. That’s why earning how to get your best night’s sleep when, let’s be honest, you have such little time for it, is important. A loss of sleep can affect your ability to think, reason, and solve problems. It can also age your skin, cause weight gain, and kill your sex drive — issues that no one wants to deal with. But by following a few sleep tips and tricks, you can easily turn that around. Make sure your getting a revitalizing sleep every single night with these tips from experts.
It's easier to feel peaceful when you feel like you're lying in a bed of lavender flowers in a beautiful meadow. According to recent research published in Nursing in Critical Care, lavender essential oils can reduce anxiety and increase quality of sleep. Sounds good to us!
What you'll need: Organic Lavender Essential Oil ($10, .com)
When menopausal women kept a nightly sleep diary and spoke to a sleep coach on the phone for six sessions, they experienced fewer insomnia symptoms, according to research published by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. A sleep coach might not be available in your area, so consider using the SleepBot app instead, which functions as a virtual guide. It will help track your sleep patterns so you can better understand what's disrupting your rest, such as noisy neighbors or a 4 PM coffee. It also offers tips to follow for a better night ahead.
Your body needs some time to wind down after a hectic day, so stop reading emails or scrolling through Instagram once you get into bed. "This period is crucial in separating the chaos of the day from the quiet of bedtime," Dr. Makekau says. Try turning on a podcast or drawing in an adult coloring book before you crawl in the sheets.
What you'll need: Adult Coloring Book ($7, .com)
Just because you crawl into bed at a decent hour doesn't necessarily mean you'll get more sleep. "Plan to be in bed only for the time you're truly sleeping," says Dr. Khan. First, figure out how many hours of sleep you want to get. Say that's seven hours. So if you have to be up at 6 a.m., go to bed at 11 p.m., not 9 p.m., and don't hang out there watching TV or noodling around on your phone.
At some point in the evening, take a few minutes to pause and notice smells, sights, and sounds. Simply being mindful may improve sleep quality and daytime functioning better than a formal program that includes stress reduction tactics, suggests research published in JAMA Internal Medicine. "A minute or two can make a big difference in your stress levels," says Shelby Harris, Psy.D., director of behavioral sleep medicine at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at the Montefiore Health System.
Stash a bucket of ice with a towel on top next to your bed in the case of unexpected hot flashes. "If a hot flash wakes you up in the middle of the night, you can easily grab the towel and put it on your neck to cool down," Dr. Harris says.
"One of the most common mistakes women make is spending too much time in bed hoping to doze off, but this can actually perpetuate insomnia," says Meena Khan, M.D., assistant program director of the Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. If you can't fall asleep or you find yourself awake at 2 a.m., Dr. Khan suggests getting out of bed. "Go relax in another room for 15 to 30 minutes until you feel drowsy," she says. It's a good idea to prep by having a book or knitting project at the ready.
Another option for hot flashes is cooling sheets, which have breathable fabric to keep you sweat-free and comfortable all night long.
What you'll need: Peach Skin Sheets Cooling Sheets ($80, .com)
According to Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D., manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic, the perfect sleep-inducing meal contains lean protein (tofu, roasted turkey, salmon) and complex carbohydrates (lentils, sweet potato, quinoa). The combo has been shown to stimulate calming neurotransmitters that help you doze off. Simultaneously, you'll want to avoid anything high in saturated fat, because your digestive system will work overtime to break down these foods, keeping you up later. So yes, you'll want to steer clear of having fries as your late night snack.
"The light in traditional bulbs reacts with the cells in your eyes and tells your brain to stop producing melatonin, a hormone that your body makes to help regulate your sleep cycle," says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist in Scottsdale, AZ. That's why you should consider a filtered lightbulb without blue light, which has been linked to poor sleep quality, Harvard reports.
What you'll need: Bedtime Bulb ($18, .com)
The noise from distant cars or overhead planes disrupts your rest, and that comes with a surprising consequence. A recent study published in the Antioxidants & Redox Signaling found that outdoor nighttime noise is linked to a greater risk oxidative stress, a risk factor for heart disease. A simple solution for environmental annoyances is to turn on a fan or get a white noise machine to drown out sounds.
What you'll need: White noise machine ($20, .com)
You're probably wondering how this can possibly be related to sleep. Well, socks warm up your extremities, dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow, to help you fall and stay asleep, says Cathy Goldstein, M.D., a sleep specialist and assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center. Choose ones that are made of a breathable fabric, like a cotton-synthetic blend, and make sure they aren't too tight. (It's totally fine if you kick them off at night anyway.)
Many people lie in bed worrying, but that's the single worst time to ruminate because it's keeping you from the sleep you'll need to handle those problems. Instead, practice scheduled worry. "Plan a time away from bed to write down anything you're stressing about, like items you have to buy or errands you need to run," Dr. Goldstein says. Writing it down at the end of the day helps get the stressful thoughts out of your brain to make room for relaxation and rest.
Melatonin, a natural supplement, can be especially helpful for those who have trouble falling asleep and for when you're trying to sleep at a time other than your "normal" bedtime, Dr. Breus says. However, you should always clear any new vitamins or supplements with your doctor first.
Any light sneaking through the curtains will make it more difficult to get to sleep, but the right mask can help you drift off. Try a light blocker with cooling beads to block the rays and potentially even de-puff your eye area.
What you'll need: Compression sleep mask ($13, .com)
Just imagine settling down with a hot cup of tea at night. Not only is the act of itself rela, but there's also research to show that herbal teas like chamomile naturally calm the body to induce sleep.
You may have heard that you should wake up at the same time every day, but you actually have about 30 to 60 minutes of wiggle room that allows you to flex your schedule and still get the same sleep benefits, according to Shanon Makekau, M.D., medical director, Kaiser Permanente sleep lab in Hawaii. So if you typically get up at 6 a.m. during the week, feel free to add an extra hour of snooze time on Saturday.
Bundle up and take a brisk walk around the block soon after you wake up. Immediate exposure to morning light resets and fine-tunes your sleep-wake rhythm, says Namni Goel, Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. It can also help you burn fat by tapping into your triglycerides!
Even the teensiest sliver of light can mess with your sleep—which can increase inflammation in the body, messing with everything from your weight to your heart over time—so a pitch black room is ideal for slumber. If you don't like snoozing in sleep mask, consider installing blackout curtains, which block out more light than traditional ones.
Your body has an internal body clock that dictates when you wake and sleep—it's called your circadian rhythm. Erratic sleep messes with this biological timepiece. Set a bedtime and try to stick to it as often as possible.
Switch off all electronic devices, including your phone! The light emitted from tablets, laptops, and smartphones can keep you up at night, mess with levels of sleepytime hormone melatonin, and wake you up if they buzz in the middle of the night.