Seven Ways to Get Better Sleep Tonight
How many times have you had that extra drink at night or that soda right before bed? What about that walk you didn’t get in like you said you would? Have you ever suffered through a night of pain instead of talking with your doctor to help find a solution? If this sounds like you, then it may have become normal for you to skimp on sleep. But with all those missed Zzzz’s, you could actually be depriving your body of the necessary building blocks to perform well each day. Sleep helps you rebuild tissue, repair damaged cells and build up energy for the next day. It’s imperative that you find a way to snooze better. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help ease your sleep woes so you can begin to get the rest you need each day. Just follow these seven tips for getting better sleep starting tonight.
Skip the caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that helps you stay alert and can also prevent you from falling asleep or having good quality sleep. Having some even six hours before your bedtime can be disruptive to your sleep cycle. Caffeine has a “half-life” of approximately six hours and although the level of caffeine in your body is reduced, it is still somewhat effective after this time.  To avoid sleep disruption, restrict your caffeine consumption to the morning hours. If you do have an afternoon coffee, stick to a 2pm cut off. 
Get some sunshine. Getting a healthy dose of sunshine first thing in the morning helps regulate the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Your circadian rhythm runs on a 24-hour clock and works best when exposed to a pattern of light and dark so make it a point to get outside when you wake up. 
Quit drinking after dinner. Some people use alcohol as a sleep aid and although it can make you sleepy, alcohol is not the answer to getting better sleep. Drinking alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime keeps from reaching the deep stages of sleep.Additionally, alcohol dehydrates you and awakens you in the middle of the night (usually to go to the bathroom). This means you’ll wake up not feeling as rested as you should. 
Get moving. You don’t need to run a marathon, but you can’t just sit there all day and expect yourself to have good sleep. Your body was made for movement, and getting consistent, moderate exercise during the day will help you fall asleep more quickly and get you into a deeper sleep for a longer period of time.  That being said, exercising too close to bedtime might make you feel wide awake. Vigorous exercise keeps your body temperature elevated for about four to five hours which can make it hard to fall asleep. 
Dim the lights at night. Light has the biggest impact on our circadian rhythm–far more so than food or social cues–so do yourself a favor and step away from the TV in the evening. If you truly must work after dinner, use a dimmer on your computer or laptop screen to block out blue light, as this wavelength of light can keep you awake longer than yellow light. Try to limit your exposure to artificial light by making the last hour of your bedtime ritual electronics free.  Once you are ready to fall asleep, use an eye mask or blackout shades at night to block out unwanted light and keep potential midnight wakeups at bay.
Keep cool. Body temperature and room temperature both help us fall asleep, stay asleep, and get more restorative sleep, too. During the day, your temperature fluctuates according to your sleep cycle. In the evening, your body temperature starts to go down reaching its lowest temperature sometime in the early morning. If your bedroom is too warm, it may interfere with your body’s need to cool down and cause you to wake throughout the night.  Although everyone may have a different optimal temperature for sleep (depending on what you are wearing or your blanket or duvet), according to sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus, 68 to 72 degrees is the sweet spot.
Respect chronic pain, physical ailments, and underlying health issues. These are not fun in the least, and they’re often a big handicap for good sleep. Sometimes the pain is physical, sometimes it’s mental, but often the two work hand in hand. 
If you’ve struggled with your sleep or feel depressed or discouraged when you compare your sleep to others, don’t worry. If you stay the course and try new sleep techniques, you’ll be well on your way to curing your sleep woes. Don’t be afraid to find the right combination that works for you. Take this list and mix things up. See how moderate exercise–that lunchtime walk, for example–compares to a high-octane gym session. Try to practice calming and relaxation techniques to ease your frustrations. And once you’ve hit a sleep milestone, celebrate your achievements, big or small. Feeling a bit better today than you did yesterday is a really big deal and can be a game changer in the long run. Don’t ever try to ignore your pain. If you feel like you can’t get the sleep you need, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best ways to treat any pain and help minimize your sleep disruptions.