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7 Habits of a Healthy Sleeper

At some point, everyone's struggled to get a good night's sleep. Luckily, there are easy, at-home techniques to combat those thoughts that keep us up at night.

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A blonde woman in blue pajamas and a pink eye mask asleep in white bed sheets.
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Human beings spend a significant amount of time sleeping, or at the very least, trying to sleep. Most researchers say we spend about a third of our lives resting. And when you think about it, that’s a lot of time, especially if you’re not getting the sleep you need.

I’m not a self-proclaimed “healthy sleeper” by any means. I’ve had my fair share of restless nights, but I do enjoy a good night’s sleep when I see it plausible. That’s why I think it’s essential to follow some guidelines when it comes to sleeping well. Hopefully you’ll find comfort in my personal tried-and-true tips below.

Staying Hydrated

First thing’s first. In order to get a good night’s sleep, it’s critical to drink plenty of water throughout your day. Try to aim for eight glasses of water each day. If that sounds like a stretch, carry a portable water bottle with you to work or school and fill it up frequently.

If you’re a caffeine lover, swap out soda for sparkling water. Drinking plenty of water will keep you from waking up in the middle of the night feeling dehydrated. Just be sure not to drink a ton of water right before bed, otherwise you’ll wake up in the night having to use the restroom.

Meditating

Meditating before bed is a great way to improve your sleep cycle. It can promote calmness, relieve any anxiety surrounding sleep and help you feel more grounded. Plus, meditating is free and extremely easy to do. You can practice it anywhere anytime, no matter if you’re driving to work or tossing and turning in your bed late at night.

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of leading your own meditation, let a narrator help you. There are plenty of free mobile meditation apps out there if you don’t know where to start. Most of them offer guided meditation, and you can usually track your progress or set up daily alerts to hold yourself accountable.

Maintaining a Clean Space

Marie Kondo once said, “A messy room equals a messy mind” in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. And although we all wish Ms. Kondo could work her magic in the messiness of our own homes, that’s unfortunately implausible. Cleaning up our space doesn’t have to turn into a big home project, though. It could simply mean putting away the laundry you’ve been neglecting all week or running the vacuum for a few minutes. Anything to promote a little cleanliness in your room can in turn create clarity in your head.

Going to Bed Earlier

I am 100% a night owl. Most days I prefer sunsets to sunrises. My preference to nighttime, however, can make going to bed at a reasonable time extremely difficult. And if you’re anything like me, you also likely tend to work better under pressure, which can lead to procrastination. So, what’s the solution? Going to bed early.

If you struggle to hit the hay before midnight, try making a to-do list right when you wake up in the morning. Hold yourself accountable to the list throughout your day and make sure everything is checked off by dinnertime. That way, you won’t have a million things to do at the end of the day and you’ll have more time to prioritize sleep.

Ignoring the Phone

If I could live in a world without my cell phone, I’d take the opportunity in a heartbeat. Keeping up with your phone can feel like a job, especially with constant access to social media, e-mails and our contact lists. This is especially true at night. I’ll admit, I use the minutes leading up to bedtime to scroll through Facebook and read my emails. But the blue light from your phone can actually do you more harm than good if you’re constantly looking at it before sleeping hours. Worst case scenario, looking at your phone too close to bedtime can negatively impact your circadian rhythm, or, your body’s internal clock.

Quick tip: give yourself about an hour before bed with no screen time. Charge your phone in a room far away from your bedroom at night. If you need an alarm to wake up, use a traditional alarm clock. That way, you won’t be tempted to check your phone throughout the night.

Practicing Gratitude

Practicing gratitude can go hand in hand with meditation. Not only is it free, but it can encourage positive thinking and ultimately reframe any negative thoughts you may experience.

To practice gratitude, first reflect back on your day and think of at least three positive moments, no matter how small. Look for the joy these moments brought you and cling to that bit of happiness as you drift off. If you’re stuck and can’t think of any specific moments that brought you joy from the day, think of people who brought you joy. Once you start making an internal gratitude list, you’ll forget about the worries that have kept you up at night.

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