There are countless reasons why you should make getting enough sleep a top priority: healthier skin, improved focus, higher energy, weight maintenance, better mood - the list goes on and on. For some of us, though, it's easier said than done to snooze straight through the night.
If you're struggling to either fall or stay asleep, consider these tips and you'll be counting sheep in no time:
- Establish a sleep sanctuary. Your bedroom should be a place that is dedicated mainly to sleeping, so while it's tempting to lounge around on your comforter, take your reading, writing and chatting to the couch. Set the scene for snoozing by decorating with calming colors, and if you can, keep your computer and TV in the living room to avoid distractions that keep you up.
- Form a bedtime ritual. Getting into a regular routine can start to send a signal to your brain that it's bedtime. Meir Kryger, director of sleep research and education at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford, Conn., told U.S. News & World Report that it's important for the ritual to be non-stimulating, like taking a warm bath to sooth your muscles and relax your mind. Pour the elemis sp@home quiet mind relaxing bath elixir into the tub for extra credit: With a mixture of essential oils that are meant to promote inner-calm, you'll be ready to catch some Z's in no time.
- Let there be light. According to O, The Oprah Magazine, exposure to lamps with specialized full-spectrum bulbs for 30 minutes at the beginning of the day has been shown to aid people in falling and staying asleep. This may be because the light can facilitate the nighttime production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body clock. If you have trouble adjusting to harsh light in the morning, the verilux rise + shine natural wake-up light gradually builds up luminescence 15 minutes before your alarm sounds so you feel refreshed instead of stressed.
- Let your body wind down from a workout. There's no doubt that a grueling cardio workout can exhaust you, promoting sounder sleep. However, Dr. Lisa Shives, sleep expert and founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Ill., explained to Prevention magazine that exercise also raises your body temperature for up to four hours, which can hinder your ability to drift off into dreamland. Let your body cool down for a few hours so it can release enough melatonin.
- Sip and snack strategically. Instead of reaching for chocolate - which has caffeine - or another stimulating sugary snack, try noshing on a protein source that contains sleep-inducing tryptophan, like cheese, turkey or low-fat yogurt. Prevention pointed out that by combining these foods with a carbohydrate, like whole grain toast or crackers, you can also elevate the brain's serotonin levels for a feeling of serenity.