10 Ways to Improve Your Sleep

The quality of sleep you get each night can make or break you the next day, but it's also essential to your health.

You spend about a third of your life asleep. Besides boosting your mood and easing those eye circles, sleep affects your growth and stress hormones, immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure, and heart health. Research shows that not getting enough sleep (or poor quality sleep) can lead to weight gain, heart disease, and even infections.

Perhaps you're putting in more hours at work or you're constantly plugged into your device. Maybe you're a parent. It's no wonder research shows most of us aren't getting proper rest. We all know we're supposed to get enough sleep, but it can be hard to fall asleep and stay snoozing even when we try. Luckily there are a few science-backed ways to doze off quickly and quietly.

Here are 10 tips and tricks to help you sleep better:

Put on a pair of cozy socks

Studies have shown that having warm hands and feet actually helps you fall asleep faster. If your feet are always cold (like mine!) slip on a pair of warm cozy socks before bed. It'll help speed up the amount of time it takes you to doze off.

Keep your bedroom dark

Does your bedroom have everything it needs to promote restful sleep? Have a relaxing bedroom with little to no light while you're sleeping is ideal. Get rid of your digital alarm clock if it has a glow and invest in black out curtains. Even the smallest amount of light can disrupt your sleep cycle. Keep your phone away from your bed and turn it off before sleeping. Sleeping with your phone near your head might actually be dangerous.

Keep your bedroom cool

Temperature can be the difference between a great nights sleep and a terrible one. You don't want your bedroom to be too hot or too cold. What's the perfect temperature to promote better sleep? According to Dr. Christopher Winter the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 F degrees. Temperatures above 75 F and below 54 F are shown to disrupt sleep.

Istockphoto: PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou

Turn your devices off an hour before bed

We spend so much time glued to our screens: computers, iPhones, TVs. It's almost impossible to work or play without them. But going straight from your device to bed isn't a good idea. Bright blue light emitted from screens send a trigger to your brain to stay awake and alert. Giving yourself enough time to unwind before crawling into bed can actually help you fall asleep faster. Try starting a night time ritual to promote better sleep and turning off all your devices an hour before bed.

Exercise a couple of hours before bed

Regular exercise does wonders for your natural sleep cycle. Just don't exercise right before bed. It could energize you. In a National Sleep Foundation survey, participants who regularly exercised a few hours before bed got the best sleep. Instead of trying to exercise for a long time focus on working out vigorously and consistently. Here are a few ways to bring the fitness studio home with you.

Keep your bedroom quiet...but not too quiet

Buzzing fans. Ticking clocks. Snoring partners. It can be hard to get your bedroom quiet enough to sleep. Leave any noisy devices outside of your bedroom and try snoring strips or sleep therapy for snoring partners. You can also invest in good quality ear plugs.

If your bedroom is too quiet though, it could amplify small sounds. You're more likely to hear every ruffle of the sheets and wake up more often. Try using a sound machine with white noise to block out any background noise.

Start a "powering down" night time routine

Starting a night time routine that helps you power down before bed can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep. Your mind might still be racing if you head straight to bed after a hectic, stressful day or even after watching a tense movie. If you have a lot going on the next day and you can't stop going over to do lists, write them down before bed.

Yoga, meditation, and even prayer can help you work through your thoughts before bed so that your mind is clear and ready for rest.

Take a hot bath

Taking a hot bath every night is a great way to unwind and research shows it can actually help you sleep better. Warm water raises your body temperature and then when you get out of the bath it drops again. This mimics your body's natural drop in temperature when you're falling asleep which tells your brain you're ready to rest.

Try aromatherapy

Scents like lavender are shown in studies to promote a deeper sleep. If you struggle with insomnia try a lavender sheet spray, a lavender candle, or rolling lavender oil on your temples before bed. The scent can help relax you into sleep and then help you stay alseep.

Set Your Bedroom Up for Success

What are the five items everyone needs in their bedroom? A good pillow, great sheets, a cozy comforter, perfect lighting, and healthy non-toxic candles.

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