Tips and Tricks to a Good Night's Sleep

A few weeks ago, we posted about WHY getting lots of sleep is important. If you missed it, you can read about that here. Today, we're tackling HOW to get lots of sleep. If sleep always comes easy for you, count yourself lucky and feel free to stop reading and continue on your merry way. But be warned: if you leave now, you'll miss out on a handful of slightly irrelevant but adorable animal gifs! For the rest of you out there, here are some ideas that might help you get the good night’s sleep you’ve been looking for.

ready lets go GIF by Leroy Patterson
Build a nightly routine:
Our brains recognize all the different patterns of our lives, so a nightly routine can really help you to find your groove of falling asleep. If you need help thinking up some ideas for a routine, try drinking a cup of tea every night, or reading 15 minutes of fiction. Whatever gets your brain in the zone to fall asleep is the goal.

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Get to bed at the same time every night:
Getting the same amount of sleep every night is one of the best tips across the board. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, the human body goes through a rhythmic cycle of waking a sleeping every night, and getting to bed at the same time is a huge way to help. When you settle into your body’s rhythm it starts to recognize the pattern and your brain starts to release chemicals that make you sleepy. This tip isn’t  possible for everyone, but if you can manage it, your body will thank you.

Kick your midnight texting habit!
It’s hard to stop when you’re in the middle of a conversation, but sleep is super important. When you don’t get enough sleep, you can become irritable - just sayin’. I speak for all your friends when I say they will appreciate you getting a good night’s sleep and being less grouchy. Just make sure you’re caught up on all your snapstreaks and catch some much needed shut-eye.

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Use the night-shift button on your phone:
Your brain recognizes daytime by the light that you live in, but the glow from your phone actually confuses your brain into thinking that it’s still sunny out. Your brain can’t tell the difference between night and day, so it can’t tell when to make you sleepy. The night-shift
feature (also called blue shade or nightlight) sets the light on your phone or tablet to a glow that your brain interprets as night time light, so it knows when to make you tired. It’s not perfect, but if you can’t give up your midnight texting habit, the best way to force your brain into bed-time mode is by starting the night-shift feature at least an hour before bed.

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Put your phone in a different room:
Some people who get enough hours of sleep still manage to be sleep deprived. Why? Because deep sleep is dependent upon staying asleep for long periods of time
If you’re waking up to check your phone every couple of hours, or if someone texts you in the middle of the night, it can be really harmful to your sleep health. In rare cases, sleeping with your phone next to you can cause some ridiculous side effects like sleep textingOne surefire way to make sure you’re not sending embarrassing texts from your dreams is to make sure your phone is in a different room while you’re catching Zs.

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Get a sleep app:

If for some reason you can’t (or won’t!) do anything about the previous rule and you decide to keep your phone near you all night, you should think about using a sleep app. The American Sleep Association has an awesome list of apps 
that you can look through. I use an app called White Noise for work sometimes and, since it’s free, I’m sure it would help falling asleep. As a side note, LeBron James uses a similar app to listen to the sound of a rainforest when he falls asleep, so experiment and find what works for you.

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Cut Out Energy Drinks!
Energy drinks and coffee are great when you need to stay awake, but caffeine, like everything else, can be harmful when you get too much of it. 
Even when it isn’t “harmful,” caffeine even in little amounts can keep you from being able to sleep well. If you’re going to use coffee or energy drinks, try to drink them sparingly and only until about 12 - 3 in the afternoon. After that, your body will slowly start winding down for the day, but with too much caffeine in your system it will be really hard to slow down enough to doze off.

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Use a Sleep Diary.
I know this sounds ridiculous (they could have at least called it a sleep journal!), but sleep is something that’s different for every person, and keeping track can help figure out your body a little better. A sleep diary is just one way to experiment with your own sleep habits and find what works for you. The idea is that every morning and evening for one week you write down how you sleep. The National Sleep Foundation has put everything into the simplest format possible, so all you have to do is check some boxes and you’re already on your way to taking control of your Zs. Just print one of these bad boys 
and get to journaling - I mean, diary-ing.

sleepy good night GIF by San Diego Zoo

The best reason to pursue healthy sleep is to enjoy your waking hours, so take control of your night and get the best out of your day. Everyone is different, and what works for one person might not work for you. If you try different strategies and still don’t feel like you ever get a good night’s sleep, you should ask your doctor about it. Sometimes there are underlying issues that contribute to our inability to sleep. I hope you figure out how to sleep since you’ll be doing it every night for the rest of your life. Good night and good luck!