You can sleep better starting tonight. To quit tossing and turning, begin with these four simple lifestyle steps:
1. Spend less time in bed.
You may not need to go to bed earlier. Instead, you might just need to true up your sleep schedule. You can do that with a method called "sleep restriction."
The goal is simple: to stay in bed only when you’re actually asleep. So if you get 6 hours of sleep then toss and turn for 2 hours, just stay in bed for 6 hours. Your body will gradually get the message to sleep when you’re in bed. Then you can slowly add more sleep time.
Once you’re getting a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep, be consistent about when you go to bed and when you get up.
Likewise, you might need to cut back on long naps. They can throw your body clock off schedule and make it harder to sleep at night.
2. Shun your couch.
Do you tend to snooze on your sofa? Your bed is jealous. Try not to sleep nestled into any other furniture, not even your comfiest loveseat. You want to train yourself to associate "sleep" with "bed."
There’s another good reason to give your couch the cold shoulder. The more active you are, the better you sleep. A good workout makes for a great night’s sleep.
Keep in mind, though, this caveat from Andrew Westwood, MD, a neurologist and sleep specialist with Columbia Doctors in New York: "Aerobic exercise gets the heart pumping and gives a surge of adrenaline, which will make it harder for you to fall asleep." Just make sure you give yourself enough time to wind down before bed.
3. Breathe the 4-7-8 technique.
You know you need to relax before bedtime. Westwood recommends this simple breathing technique:
- Inhale through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.
- Repeat this three times.
If you still have a lot on your mind, write it down. For instance, make a to-do list for tomorrow.