Sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body. Alongside drinking plenty of water and eating a proper diet - it might just be one of the most important things you need to stay healthy. But after a long day at work, with the family, and even at the gym - it can be hard to turn off your brain and catch the zzz's you need.
There are some great tips from across the web to help you get the regular, sound night sleep your body craves. It's about getting yourself into a good routine and finding ways to calm down your brain, and body. If you find getting to sleep is difficult you'll probably have to make at least one of the lifestyle changes below - but we think the healthy lifestyle you can gain from making these changes will be well worth it.
1. Listen to relaxing music or a bedtime story
Fairy tales and bedtime stories aren't just for kids. Listening to one of your favorite stories, or relaxing music can distract your brain from the stresses of the day, and help wind you down into a good sleep.
Expert tip: One good way to do this is to download one of your favorite books, or one you know well, as an audiobook and listen to that before bed.
2. Keep a consistent sleep schedule
It's important to keep your body in a constant sleep schedule. That means M-F, weekends, and holidays. Being consistent with your sleep is going to keep your body on track, and promote better sleep.
Expert tip: If you're keeping a tight sleep schedule but one night have trouble getting to sleep, you should get up, but do something relaxing until you're tired. Agonizing over catching zzz's is only going to stress you out, and keep you up longer.
3. Practice a bedtime routine
Create a ritual that indicates to your body that it's time to wind down. This can be anything relaxing - from taking a bath or shower, to reading a book, or listening to soothing music.
Expert tip: You should avoid TV, electronic devices, and dim the lights down low. Some research suggests that this excess screen time before bed could inhibit good sleep.
4. If you smoke, stop
Smoking is terrible for your health for a number of reasons - and it also could be hindering your sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant, so it's going to keep you from getting into a relaxing mode to fall asleep. On top of that, smokers can get withdrawal in the middle of the night causing a restless slumber.
Expert tip: If you're a smoker you shouldn't worry that quitting and withdrawal will keep you up more than your smoking habit already does. The effect passes after about 3 nights after quitting - so after that you should be on your way to a sound night's sleep.
5. Exercise at appropriate times
Working out is an essential part of getting, and staying healthy. Infact, working out improves the length, and quality of your sleep. But working out also elevates your body temperature, and that inhibits your body's ability to shut down, and get some shut eye.
Expert tip: Don't workout 4 hours before bedtime. Try working out in the morning, or in the afternoon so you can avoid keeping your body up later than it needs to be.
6. Watch what you're ingesting
Caffeine and alcohol can really mess up your sleep cycle. Caffeine keeps you awake and while alcohol might initially put you to sleep - it can disrupt your cycle in the middle of the night.
Expert tip: You should also watch how much you eat. You've probably heard that you shouldn't go to bed over stuffed, but you shouldn't go to bed hungry either. Discomfort could keep you up in the middle of the night and ruin your sleep cycle. You should limit how much you drink before bed so you don't have to use the bathroom as much in the middle of the night.