Steven and Chris
Secrets for a Good Night's Sleep
Dr. Melissa Lem says your journey to a good night's sleep starts a lot earlier in the day than you think. Throughout the day, there are things you can be doing to help ensure you slumber peacefully through the night.
Eight Hours Before Bed
Be sure to get lots of sunlight in your eyes as soon as you wake up and throughout the day. Sunlight sends a powerful signal to your brain that it's time to wake up and be alert--and also helps regulate the clock that tells you when it's time to sleep. Sunlight lamps can help too, but nothing compares to real daylight. Also, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise three or more times per week in the morning or afternoon can drastically improve your sleep, but avoid working out less than 4 hours before bedtime.
Four Hours Before Bed
Stop caffeine intake, including coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. Some doctors even recommend avoiding caffeine after noon. Also cut out the booze at this point--although a nightcap can make you sleepy at first, there's a nasty rebound effect 4 hours later. And remember to avoid big meals so your body can focus on sleep instead of digestion.
Two Hours Before Bed
Start getting into your regular sleep routine. Dim the lights in every room because bright light suppresses your melatonin (sleep hormone) production. Turn down the thermostat to your ideal sleeping temperature of 16-19°C. Take a warm shower or bath, because the increase in body temperature followed by cooling afterwards sends a sleep signal to your brain.
One Hour Before Bed
By now you should be completely unplugged. Turn the TV off and avoid watching the news or violent TV shows right before bedtime. Also, turn off your computer and smartphone because blue light is especially bad for your sleep-wake cycle. If you must click away, try installing software that changes your screen from a blue to orange tint later in the day, or wearing orange safety glasses at night. If you're hungry eat a light snack like cheese or turkey, which contain tryptophans, or drink some warm milk or chamomile tea. But don't drink too much because this might mean a bathroom visit in the middle of the night!
Five Minutes Before Bed
It's essential that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day for your best sleep, so set your alarm--then cover it up so you don't watch it all night. Complete darkness is also key, so install blackout drapes or put on a sleeping mask. Minimize noise by using ear plugs if needed. Soothe your mind with gentle music or an audio book if you can't shut your brain off. And last but not least, cuddle up--because nothing should happen in the bedroom but sex and sleep. Sweet dreams!