Sleep is one of those funny little things.  If it's readily accessible you rarely ever give it a thought, but as soon as it becomes troublesome to obtain it occupies your mind constantly.  We can all probably relate to having had a bad nights sleep and feeling tired or 'out of it' the next day, but for some this can be a chronic condition that severely and negatively affects the quality of their lives.

Here are three tips to help you get that important sleep that you so badly need.

1.  Taper.  It is important to slowly bring your night to a close.  You shouldn't go from watching an ultra-violent or super exciting movie one minute to falling asleep the next.  Approximately one hour before your bed time you should begin winding down.  This can take the form of dimming the lights, turning off the TV, or putting down a stimulating video game or book.  This allows your body and mind to transition from the alert, awake, and engaged state to a more restful state.  The taper or winding down time also sends signals to your body letting it know that you are beginning your transition to sleep.  Far to many people simply switch off the TV and expect to quickly fall asleep.  It is important to remember that although watching TV may feel relaxing it has a stimulating effect on your mind.  The taper method also relates to conversations.  The hour before bed is not the time for addressing heavy, serious or emotional topics.  Try to keep the conversation light so that you are not struggling with an emotional response as you transition to sleep.

2.  Create the ideal environment.  Even though you might be in bed with your eyes closed the environment in your bedroom still has a large impact on your ability to fall asleep and the quality of the sleep you will enjoy.  Your bedroom should be as dark and quiet as possible.  Even the small glow from a bedside alarm clock may be enough to delay and disturb your slumber.  One easy fix is to wear an eye shade in order to block out all ambient light.  After a few nights of wearing the eye shade you will have forgotten that you even have it on and will be enjoying the benefits of a completely dark sleeping environment.  

Ear plugs can also be a useful tool for light sleepers or those who find sounds distracting when trying to fall asleep.  A simple pair of soft foam earplugs (the type that you can buy in any drugstore) do a great job of reducing noise.  Combined with the eye shade these two simple and cheap tools will dramatically improve your sleep.

3. Be consistent.  Your body is very sensitive to daily rhythm and routine.  Most of us have had the experience of going to lunch  when we weren't even hungry.  Often times people will go for a meal simply because it is that time of day.  You can harness the power of routine in order to get better sleep.  Simply by going to bed at the same time each night you will train your body to quickly enter deep levels of sleep.  After as little as three weeks of keeping a consistent bed time you will begin to notice that you begin to naturally feel sleepy 30 to 60 minutes before your regular bed time.  This one tip alone can help you fall asleep 50% faster.  

By adopting the very simple practices of:

  • tapering each night
  • creating a bedroom environment conducive to sleep
  • and consistently maintaining the same the bedtime

you will soon be able to fall asleep quickly, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling more well rested and alert.