1. Power Down
The soft orange/white/red/blue glow from a cell phone, tablet, or digital clock on your bedside table may hurt your sleep.
Tip: Turn off mobiles, computers, TVs and other blinking light sources an hour before you go to bed. Cover the devices you can’t turn off.
2. Try a Leg Pillow for Back Pain
Your lower back may not hurt enough to wake you up, but mild pain can disturb the deep, restful stages of sleep. Put a pillow between your legs to align your hips better and stress your lower back less.
Tip: Do you sleep on your back? Tuck a pillow under your knees to ease pain.
3. Put Your Neck in ‘Neutral’
Blame your pillow if you wake up tired with a stiff neck. It should be just the right size — not too fat and not too flat — to support the natural curve of your neck when you’re resting on your back. Do you sleep on your side? Line your nose up with the center of your body. Don’t snooze on your stomach. It twists your neck.
Tip: Use good posture before bed, too. Don’t crane your neck to watch TV.
4. Seal Your Mattress
Sneezes, sniffles, and itchiness from allergies can lead to lousy shut-eye. Your mattress may hold the cause. Over time, it can fill with mold, dust mite droppings, and other allergy triggers. Seal your mattress, box springs, and pillows to avoid them.
Tip: Air-tight, plastic, dust-proof covers work best.
5. Save Your Bed for Sleep and Sex
Your bedroom should feel relaxing. Don’t sit in bed and work, surf the Internet, or watch TV.
Tip: The best sleep temperature for most people is between 68 and 72 degrees.
6. Set Your Body Clock
Go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day, even on weekends. This routine will get your brain and body used to being on a healthy snooze-wake schedule. In time, you’ll be able to nod off quickly and rest soundly through the night.
Tip: Get out in bright light for 5 to 30 minutes as soon as you get out of bed. Light tells your body to get going!
7. Look for Hidden Caffeine
Coffee in the morning is fine for most people. But as soon as the clock strikes noon, avoid caffeine in foods and drinks. Even small amounts found in chocolate can affect your ZZZs later that night.
Tip: Read labels. Some pain relievers and weight loss pills contain caffeine.
8. Work Out Wisely
Regular exercise helps you sleep better — as long as you don’t get it in too close to bedtime. A post-workout burst of energy can keep you awake. Aim to finish any vigorous exercise 3 to 4 hours before you head to bed.
Tip: Gentle mind-body exercises, like yoga or tai chi, are great to do just before you hit the sack.
9. Eat Right at Night
Don’t eat heavy foods and big meals too late. They overload your digestive system, which affects how well you sleep. Have a light evening snack of cereal with milk or crackers and cheese instead.
Tip: Finish eating at least an hour before bed.
10. Rethink Your Drink
Alcohol can make you sleepy at bedtime, but beware. After its initial effects wear off, it will make you wake up more often overnight.
Tip: Warm milk and chamomile tea are better choices.
11. Lower the Lights
Dim them around your home 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Lower light levels signal your brain to make melatonin, the hormone that brings on sleep.
Tip: Use a 15-watt bulb if you read in the last hour before bed.
12. Hush Noise
Faucet drips, nearby traffic, or a loud dog can chip away at your sleep. And if you’re a parent, you might be all too aware of noises at night long after your children have outgrown their cribs.
Tip: Use a fan, an air conditioner, or a white noise app or machine. You can also try ear plugs.
13. Turn Down Tobacco
Nicotine is a stimulant, just like caffeine. Tobacco can keep you from falling asleep and make insomnia worse.
Tip: Many people try several times before they kick the habit. Ask your doctor for help.
14. Free Your Mind
Put aside any work, touchy discussions, or complicated decisions 2 to 3 hours before bed. It takes time to turn off the “noise” of the day. If you’ve still got a lot on your mind, jot it down and let go for the night. Then, about an hour before you hit the sack, read something calming, meditate, listen to quiet music, or take a warm bath.
Tip: Even 10 minutes of relaxation makes a difference.