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You wish you were snoozing away, peacefully dreaming through the night, but instead, you’re staring at the ceiling, hoping you can sleep restfully for eight hours. Maybe you’ve been browsing Instagram for hours or contemplating what you’ll do the next day — regardless, the dream world hasn’t appeared, and you’re running out of ideas.
You’re not alone — research conducted by Iowa State University indicates that more than five million Americans have difficulty sleeping restfully. It’s unfortunate since a good night’s sleep leads to improved concentration, mood and stamina — which many people desperately need.
Instead of giving in to another sleepless night — or endlessly counting sheep — try implementing some of these tips.
1. Cut Back on Late-Night Drinking
Drinking alcohol or caffeine late at night can disrupt your sleeping patterns. Drinking alcohol can lead you to feel relaxed and sleepy because it’s a central nervous system depressant with sedative effects. Most guys think having a beer late at night will help them fall asleep — and they’re correct — but they don’t realize that this evening beverage will lead to poor sleep quality and duration. Drinking in excess can lead to sleep apnea and insomnia symptoms.
If you can’t go out for drinks late at night, what about a coffee date? Unfortunately, caffeine is a stimulant that increases activity in your brain and nervous system. While a cup of joe may get you moving first thing in the morning, it will keep you awake at night when you want to catch some zzz’s. Caffeine is also in many teas and sodas, so before you reach for a drink, make sure to check the label.
2. Darken the Room
Is there anything better than falling asleep in a pitch-black room? Your body has a natural clock which is known as the circadian rhythm. This internal process keeps your sleep-wake cycle in check by using sunlight as a guide. That’s why you feel a boost of energy in the morning and get sleepy as the sun goes down. If you have bright lights in the room, it can disrupt this process and throw off your schedule.
To avoid light impacting your restful night’s sleep, you can practice these preventative steps:
- Cover the windows with heavy curtains or aluminum foil.
- Turn off hallway lights and block the gap beneath your door.
- Wear an eye mask when going to sleep.
- Install night lights around your home if you need to get up at any point.
- Keep the lights dim in your bedroom before going to bed and turn them off before falling asleep.
3. Have Sex
If you needed another reason to prioritize intimate time, here it is — having sex makes it easier to fall asleep. Sex with another person provides a boost of oxytocin, which is a natural stress reliever. It allows you to relax and reduces depression and anxiety symptoms. Your body also releases additional chemicals after climax, like prolactin which can increase feelings of drowsiness.
You can gain many of these benefits from masturbation and intercourse, so you don’t need a partner to begin implementing this tip into your evening routine. Besides falling asleep, experts believe sex can lead to having a longer, more restful slumber.
4. Limit Screen Time
As you’ve probably heard, the blue light emitted from screens can interrupt your circadian rhythm. In short, looking at your phone, TV or computer directly before bed interrupts your body’s production of melatonin — the hormone which helps you sleep. Besides keeping you awake, it can interrupt your slumber by sending alerts and notifications — leaving you with fragmented sleep.
If you need to look at your phone before bed, you should turn on the night mode to reduce the amount of blue light and brightness emitted during use. This function can help people sleep better and feel more comfortable. It also reduces eye strain and minimizes the adverse effects of using electronics before bed.
5. Stick to a Schedule
If you’ve had trouble falling asleep, it’s tempting to adjust your alarm clock for the next morning. This is especially true on weekends when you finally have a chance to catch up on sleep. Yet this habit begins a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you sleep in, the more difficult it will be to stick to a set schedule. If you sleep till noon on Sunday, how can you expect your body to feel tired at your typical weeknight bedtime?
The best thing you can do to sleep restfully is to stick to whatever schedule you set and not deviate on weekends or holidays.
6. Skip Naptime
Napping in the late afternoon or early evening can disrupt your sleep cycle. While you’re probably hoping to gain a boost of energy and restfulness, resting for too long can leave you feeling tired and exhausted.
If you truly need a nap, aim for it to be only 10 to 20 minutes long and take it before 3 PM.
7. Invest in Better Bedding
Sometimes uncomfortable or outdated bedding is the source of your sleep problems. Think back to when you last updated your sleeping space. A better mattress can help reduce pressure points on your body and lead to better sleep. When selecting bedding, look for breathable and moisture-wicking materials to prevent you from overheating while asleep.
How to Sleep Restfully: Healthy Habits
Implementing one — or all — of these seven tips will improve your sleep. However, it’s essential to recognize that your daily actions affect your energy and sleep experience. Adult men need to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week and prioritize strengthening activities twice a week. If you take care of your body, you’ll be less likely to suffer from insomnia and have an easier time falling asleep.