The choices you make during the day have a significant
effect on the sleep you get at night. Listed below are
steps to improve sleep naturally.
Reduce light exposure before bedtime and during
sleep. An hour before going to sleep, don’t expose
yourself to bright lights or electronic screens. Choose
the right light — warm, soft, golden light facilitates onset
of the sleep cycle. Avoid blue or white light at night that
tells your body to stay awake. Before bed, draw your
curtains/blinds or use room-darkening shades. Exposure
to electronic screens stimulates the brain and delays
production of melatonin, so avoid using electronic
devices for one hour before bedtime.
Exercise during the day produces better sleep. Research
suggests exercise, not sleep medications, is key to
combating symptoms of insomnia. Northwestern
University researchers found that people who exercised
reported 1.25 more hours of sleep per night.51 Workouts
using your legs especially can lead to a better night’s
sleep because fatigue produced by leg muscles acts as
a natural tranquilizer. Avoid exercising an hour before
bedtime, which raises the body’s temperature and
heartrate, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Keep a regular sleep routine. Going to bed and getting
up at the same time every day, including weekends,
helps your body know when it’s time to unwind. You’ll fall
asleep faster, sleep better and wake up more easily.
Don’t eat a big meal right before bed — the food elevates
heart rate and body temperature. Your body needs an
hour to digest food before falling asleep.
Stress is a significant instigator of insomnia. To help quiet
the racing mind, make a to-do list before bed of the
things that might preoccupy you at night. It’s important to
physically write it down, rather than just thinking about it.
When you’re trying to fall asleep (or resume sleeping), tell
yourself that items are on the list so you won’t forget and
can address them the next day.