10 daily habits that will improve your sleep patterns

There are few things as vital as sleep – especially when you’re not getting enough of it. Sleep deficiency and deprivation not only affect your mood, but also can increase your risk of chronic health conditions down the road.
If the mere thought of tossing and turning in bed has you shifting in your seat, consider how what you’re doing during the day could be impacting your slumber at night. By adopting daily habits that promote quality shut-eye, you can rest assured you’re setting yourself up for sleep success.
1. Drink enough water
Though your gut reaction may tell you water will keep you up all night, drinking enough throughout the day, in addition to other benefits, can improve sleep quality. Proper hydration helps prevent breath-disrupting dryness in your mouth and nasal passages, as well as lessen late-night leg cramping. How much water should you guzzle? Recommended water intake can vary based on gender, age and activity level, but experts say the eight-glasses-a-day rule is a good place to start.
2. Exercise at the right time
Exercise is known to help you decompress, so no surprise that it’s a natural solution for quality rest – but how much is enough to experience sleep benefits? Experts say even 30 minutes of moderate activity can make a difference that same night. Though most will still sleep more soundly than if they hadn’t exercised at all, it’s best to avoid exercising too close to bedtime. Give your body and brain at least an hour or two to unwind after exercising.
3. Try natural, sleep-inducing supplements
Taking a few specific supplements close to dinnertime can help your body produce more serotonin, the neurotransmitter that plays a dominant role in sleep cycles. Common household go-tos include magnesium, melatonin and 5-HTP (which also contains tryptophan, the amino acid in turkey known to cause drowsiness). As with any vitamin or supplement, it’s best to discuss with your doctor whether it’s right for you and, if so, how much to take.
4. Use smell to inhale relaxation and exhale stress
Smell is a powerful sense, one that’s partly responsible for memory and mood as evidenced by aromatherapy. Your nose can also contribute to a good night’s rest by way of inhaling essential oils. Although essential oils are used for everything from the fragrance alone to curtailing migraines, they’re popular commodities (especially lavender and chamomile) for increasing relaxation and decreasing anxiety. The way to enjoy them is up to you: rub directly on your body, add into a bath, spritz onto a pillow or enjoy through a diffuser.
5. Sip tea before bed each night
Another before-bed staple you’ll see lavender and chamomile make appearances in is sleepy-time tea. Even though any caffeine-free tea is likely to have a warm and calming effect, teas with herbs and roots such as lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower and Valerian root are most likely to lead you towards Z’s.
6. Cut back on what's keeping you alert
You’re probably aware of caffeine’s bad reputation in the world of sound sleep, but you’re not alone if that hasn’t stopped you from drinking it. Chugging caffeine to stay alert can create a vicious cycle if you’re drinking too much or too late in the day, so limit intake to the morning to nip this in the bud. Consider hot or cold green tea as a coffee alternative. With approximately half the caffeine of a similarly sized cup of coffee, it'll give you the best of both worlds.
7. Limit electronics before bedtime
Here’s another recommendation you may have heard but not yet acted on: avoiding electronics before bed. Your beloved electronics – TVs, smartphones and tablets – emit a blue light that can interrupt your ability to fall or stay asleep. The more electronics you surround yourself with before bed, the more difficult to achieve quality sleep. To avoid over-stimulation, give yourself at least one electronic-free hour before bed. Reading (a printed book under a lamplight) can help you loosen up after electronics have been shut off.
8. Practice meditation daily to ease your mind
If you're plagued by a constantly moving mind, renew your head space through meditation. Meditation, which emphasizes breath and mindfulness, is a habit that can evoke relaxation both during the day and just before bed. If you're stumped on how to begin meditating, download a mobile app, such as Calm, to guide you through the process. Though the meditation duration sweet spot can vary from person to person, practicing daily will bring the best results.
9. Lower the thermostat
The perfect room temperature can do more than create coziness: It’s scientifically proven to help ease you to sleep. Your body naturally drops its temperature prior to dozing – and cranking the thermostat down to 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit can expedite the process to encourage a quality REM (rapid eye movement) cycle.
10. Get rid of clutter immediately
If it sounds too far-fetched to think bedroom clutter can interfere with sleep, consider how much time is spent in that room (practically one-third of your life). Unnecessary clutter can conjure up anxiety, guilt and an incessant unfinished feeling that keeps you on edge and unable to drift peacefully to sleep. Make it a priority to clear your bedroom of clutter, especially any contributing to allergies or fire hazards.
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