Everyone knows a night of tossing and turning makes you irritable and foggy, but skimping on sleep over time can wreak havoc on your body, too: It’s been linked with heart disease, memory impairment, weight gain, even premature wrinkles. For a better night’s sleep, follow these simple tips.
1. Reset your internal clock. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sack time per night. If you can’t fall asleep early enough to hit that goal, tuck in 15 minutes sooner every week until you do. Your body will adapt.
2. Create a pre-bedtime ritual and stick to it. It can be as simple as massaging cream into your hands each night or writing a few lines in your journal. The point is to train your brain to recognize the signs that it’s time to wind down.
3. Don’t hype up your brain. Stimulating TV, books, or computer games get your mind racing, and that can make it harder to fall asleep. Ditto for job-related stuff; don’t work right up to bedtime.
4. Make your bedroom a sleep oasis. Keep your space tidy and enjoyable, with gentle lighting and a good mattress. And of course, be sure your bedding and jammies are super-soft and sweet smelling—launder them with fabric softener and scent-boosters in a layered scent, such as lavender and vanilla, you find soothing.
5. Sidetrack your worries. Organize the next morning’s essentials before you hit the sack: Pack school snacks and put out the kids’ outfits (or your own). Write a to-do list for any tasks that invade your thoughts and hide the list in another room so you don’t see it and ruminate.
6. Limit alcohol. A nightcap might relax you, but it’ll have the reverse effect a couple of hours later, as alcohol disrupts sleep and causes wake-ups as it’s metabolized. (Similarly, individuals sensitive to caffeine should abstain four to six hours before bedtime.)
7. Switch off the night light. Sleep scientists recommend sleeping in a room that’s slightly cool and as dark as possible. Both signal the brain that it’s sleepy time.