. Eat a Small Dinner - This is a huge deal and so easy. While a big meal before bed can keep your digestion working for hours, a small meal puts only a light demand on your body and allows it to rest much more fully. Sara and I actually have got it down to a large, fresh vegetable juice in the evening. That's all. You sleep better, AND you stay trim
2. Avoid Alcohol
- While a great way to FALL asleep, all those fun drinks, like wine and beer, etc, will ruin a good nights' sleep by causing dehydration
(among other things). They make me wake up in the middle of the night with a powerful, uncomfortable thirst, and I'm often very hot as well. And then there's that occasional hangover
, which sucks. Want to sleep really well? Skip the fun drinks in the evening (we skip on weeknights).
3. Unwind Your Mind - Like your body, your mind can be over stimulated and make it hard to get
a really good night's rest. When I have a stressful day at work I make an effort to not work or look at email after dinner. Computers and work stuff can really wind me up. Instead, I'll take a hot bath and read a book, both of which totally take my mind off the day.
4. Three Nights in a Row is the Magic
Number - Sleep is cumulative, so don't expect a really good night's sleep on your first night. You need at least two nights and preferably three to get into a really good groove and bank some
deep rest. We stick to these tips most Mondays through Thursdays and that's when it really gets good.
5. Exercise Helps - Being physically tired really contributes to a good night's sleep and that doesn't happen to most of us who work in offices these days - remember when you were a kid, ran
around all day and collapsed at night? Having daily exercise as a part of your routine contributes strongly to your body relaxing at night.
6. Avoid Caffeine
- Not having coffee or tea at night seems obvious, right? But as a chocolate lover, I've also learned to wean myself off of chocolate for dessert when I want a good night's sleep. In general, stimulants are NOT your friend when looking for a great night's sleep.
7. Unwind Your Body - I already recommended a hot bath for helping to unwind in the evening as the heat and water is very relaxing for the skin
and muscles. If you don't have a bath or that much time, just
having a shower and giving your body and hair a good scrub is excellently relaxing. Pair that with moisturizing any dry skin and jumping into fresh, clean sheets and you're golden.
8. Keep Bedtime & Rising Time Regular
- Our mind and body organism thrives on comfortable, regular routine, and I find it much easier to fall asleep and wake happily when the times are consistent. Even if your evening time changes, try to keep your rising time consistent. This way your body always will know when to wake and you'll avoid that feeling of having gotten up "on the wrong side of the bed." I now barely need to set an alarm
, because my body always wants to wake at 6am.
9. Drink Water - We all lose
a lot of water while sleeping at night, so that keeping yourself well hydrated really helps your body to rest comfortably. If you have a night out and drink alcohol, a lot of water before bed really helps, but even on a "dry" night, keep your water intake up (but not too much so that you have to wake and pee!).
10. Light Matters, Noise Not So Much - Light is a much bigger disruptor of sleep than noise. Electric lights outside your window (or in your room) AND the sunrise will trigger waking mechanisms in the body, so keeping your windows well covered and eliminating any other ambient light is necessary to ensure a good rest.
Some of you may be wondering why I left out "8 Hours a Night is Crucial"? My experience is that people have widely varying needs for hours of sleep and that some can do really well with less than others. We go to sleep on most night between 10 and 11pm and our alarm always goes off at 6am, and 7-8 hours is probably a good place to start, but I'd leave this up to you to experiment with. Some of my great night's sleep have been much longer, and some much shorter.