Here are some simple tips to improve your sleep. These are drawn from my own experience with improving sleep. You may find other techniques that specifically help you.
- Caffein. Some people try to completely avoid caffein because it can result in an energy crash during the day and then jitters at night that disrupt sleep. However, caffein can be used to push your body to stay awake until you crash at 9PM or a time at night that can result in a full night sleep.
- Computer Display. At night, the light from our computers and electronic devices can interfere with our body’s ability to shift to a calm state in preparation for sleep. The hormones needed for quality sleep can be inhibited by the blue light emitted from screens, and the light can stimulate hormones that wake us up in the morning. For this reason, most new computers and mobile devices can be configured to automatically reduce blue light at nighttime. A large computer display, with huge fonts, can be easy to read even at low light levels. This can be a great advantage for working in the evening hours.
- CPAP. A CPAP machine is a device that helps enhance breathing at night for better sleep. A prescription is required. See Sleep Study further down on this list for more details.
- Hunger. Having hunger at night can lead to evening snacking. Late night snacking usually involves foods high in carbs. Carbs raise blood glucose levels, and eating at night can stimulate the body. So, eating a satisfying low-carb meal for dinner, not too early but not too late, can help you wind down at night.
- Hydration. Having too much water or other beverages at night can result in waking up to use the bathroom at night. Having too little water can result in dehydration that can wake you. So, it’s important to find the right balance of hydration at night. Having an insulated water container with ice water can be a refreshing way to stay hydrated at night. Sipping over time ensures the bladder won’t fill up suddenly as it would with guzzling a large quantity of fluid over a short period of time.
- Journal. By keeping a sleep journal, you can take notes about your sleep quality progress. This is important for self reflection and planning for better outcomes.
- Light. Insulating window coverings can help reduce your heating and cooling costs, and some of these offer light blocking film to help create a dark bedroom free from light that can interfere with sleep. Depending on the time of year, the evening dimming of light and morning slow increase of light can help with falling asleep and waking up. Try not to use bright lights at night. New light technology can let you adjust the brightness of light and the color temperature. Warm dim light at night and in the morning can be calming and soothing.
- Magnesium. Natural supplements like magnesium at night can help us sleep better. Here are some products to get started with researching this further: Triple Calm Magnesium and Magnesium Glycinate. Those are products I purchased after doing some research back in 2018, but here’s a longer list of what’s currently available when you search Amazon for magnesium. That’s for reference only. Please support your local natural food store if possible.
- Nature Walks. Exercise helps promote wellness and proper hormone levels that can enhance quality sleep. A walk in nature offers the benefits of exercise with the calming and soothing influence of nature that promotes relaxation.
- News. It’s good to keep informed, but sometimes too much negative or disturbing news can result in stress that makes it hard to be calm and peaceful at night. So, finding the right balance is important and avoiding troubling news at night can help.
- Night Guard. Bruxism is the practice of grinding teeth at night. The noise and vibration of grinding teeth can result in disrupting deep sleep and even waking a person up. A simple night guard can help protect the teeth and reduce the disruption of night grinding. [View]
- Noises. Be aware of recurring disruptive noises that bring you out of sleep. For people in the city, sirens and loud trucks or motorcycles, could be a problem but these are unavoidable. If you live in an apartment, noise from neighbors could be disruptive. Sleep machines can generate calming noises that help block out background disturbances. So, noise can be used in your favor. Noise canceling headphones or ear plugs can help block disruptive noises. Note that some models of noise canceling headphones may seem to emit a high pitch noise, so be ready to try a product and return it for another if this happens. They key is to reduce disruptive noises so your sleep can be deep and continuous.
- Sedentary Lifestyle. Avoiding extended periods of time with sedentary activities can be helpful. If your work involves sitting at a computer for long periods you may need an alarm or reminder to take breaks. Finding the right combination of exercise and rest is important.
- Sleep Study. If you find that you are tired during the day, and tired upon waking, you may be having disrupted sleep caused by breathing problems at night known as sleep apnea. Your doctor may recommend a sleep study to determine if you have sleep disturbances. If you have breathing trouble at night, a CPAP machine may help you get better quality sleep.
- Sleep Tracker. Sleep analysis devices and software can be very helpful to know if you are making progress in your sleep goals. Without a sleep tracker it will be difficult to accurately track the quality and quantity of your sleep. You can find many sleep trackers on Amazon. [View] Using the AutoSleep app on the iPhone along with the Apple Watch makes it possible to get good tracking of your sleep. In the next version of WatchOS (the Apple Watch operating system), sleep tracking will be built-in.
- Social Media. One of the reasons that social media can be addictive is because it’s like watching television. It requires little mental effort to keep scrolling and enjoy the mild amusements or shocking news. The uncertainty of what will show up on your screen next, keeps people scrolling. For this reason, people can spend many hours on social media, which can cut into sleep time. Social media also involves some of the other points mentioned above: light that keeps you awake, upsetting news, and a sedentary lifestyle.
- Trolls. On some social media platforms there can be “trolls” — people who intentionally try to upset people and get a reaction from others. Trolls and arguments online can be stressful, so it’s best to avoid them.
- Wake Early. There are numerous motivating and compelling reasons that we stay up late at night, but many of these are equally satisfied by the prospect of going to bed early and waking up early. The early morning hours are quiet and productive. Try going to bed early and waking up early to finish projects.
- Work. Depending on one’s vocation, work responsibilities and stress can interfere with quality sleep. See the section below for more about how work can impact sleep and what to do about it.
- Writing. If you are a writing enthusiast, you may find that you enjoy writing at night. Writing is a creative process that can be exceptionally rewarding and fruitful once you get into the right mindset and have a good flow going. So, it’s hard to stop going if you’re having a really productive and creative writing session. Waking up early instead of staying up late can be a better alternative.
A few years ago I decided to make a career change. The impact on my sleep quality was immediate and measurable with sleep tracking. [Learn More] From that experience and others, I’ve given some thought to the impact of work on sleep. Here are a few considerations.
WORK – DEADLINES. If your work frequently involves projects and support requests with deadlines then you may find yourself working to the point of exhaustion to reach those deadlines.
- Postponing. There may be times when postponing work results in having to work really hard toward the end of a project. This can be avoided by doing as much work as early on as possible.
- Situational. Sometimes we’re given a task to do, and very little time to accomplish it. It’s not always possible, but see if you can establish guidelines that will create a buffer. For example, people who publish newsletters will typically set a deadline for submissions that allows plenty of time before the newsletter publication date.
- Unplanned. Some projects can take longer than planned. Unforeseen issues can arise that make it more challenging to complete a project on time. So, in these situations, it’s common to sacrifice sleep time to meet goals.
WORK – FOCUS. If you work independently as a consultant, such as a tech support provider or lawyer, your work likely requires extended periods of uninterrupted time focusing. If that’s not possible during normal daylight hours, then you might find yourself working late into the night, or waking in the middle of the night and resuming work. Having step-by-step workflows and checklists can help for common tasks because you’ll be able to efficiently return later and continue on a task. Turning off phone ringers, text messages, social media, and other disruptions during the day can help you avoid seeking a quiet workspace at night.
WORK – IMPORTANCE. Everyone’s work has value and importance. An artist painting a mural is providing inspiration an urban landscape. However, if a mistake is made in painting the mural, or it’s not done on time, the negative repercussions will be minimal. Someone who is a lawyer, for example, needs to be very careful and attentive with their work. Deadlines must be met. Mistakes can result in undesirable outcomes. So, in this way, higher-stress jobs can result in mental disruption at night when a person is trying to sleep.
WORK – SCHEDULE. If you have a “regular” 9am – 5pm weekday job, then your workday will become a regular anchor to your daily routine and help lock you into a regular daily cycle, regulating when you need to wake and have meals. Try to keep that going over the weekend. For some professions, like nursing or first responders, shifts may change from one week to the next. This can be very disruptive to a proper sleep routine.
Can you think of additional techniques that can improve sleep? Share them in the comments area below. Thanks!