We have all experienced the late night tossing and turning at some point in our lives. With midterm season upon us and academic pressures increasing, it can sometimes feel impossible to get a good night’s sleep. Whether you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or typically feel very well rested, these tips can help to make your sleep even better.

Stay in sync with your natural circadian rhythm

Our circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle helps to determine our sleep patterns. This 24-hour internal process cycles between sleepiness and wakefulness. To set your body’s master clock, try to wake up and fall asleep at the same time each day. This means avoiding sleeping in, even on the weekends. To make up for missed sleep, consider taking a short nap to circumvent the effects of disturbing your circadian rhythm. Although naps can help to make up for lost sleep, they can also make falling asleep at night more difficult. It is best to limit naps to a 15 to 20 minute time period, early in the afternoon.

Monitor your exposure to light

Part of the role of our internal body clock is to monitor the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy. While exposure to sunlight is an effective way to wake up in the morning, exposure to light and in particular, blue light, suppresses melatonin production and should therefore be avoided in the hours before bed. To prevent the consequences of blue light before bed, avoid the bright lights emitted from your phone, tablet, computer, and television one to two hours before bed. When bedtime has arrived, ensure the room is dark. If you happen to wake up during the night, avoid checking your phone, turning on lights, or exposing yourself to the melatonin-suppressing lights that will make falling back asleep more difficult. 

Optimize your food and drink choices

As you may know, drinking caffeine in the hours before bedtime is likely to cause sleep problems. However, it may be surprising to learn that drinking caffeine can cause trouble sleeping up to 12 hours after drinking it. Another stimulant that can present sleep problems is nicotine, especially when smoking in the hours before bedtime. When it comes to eating late at night, heavier, richer foods should be avoided. Eating dinner earlier in the evening is advisable to optimize your sleep. Excess fluids, including alcohol, should also be avoided in the late evening to prevent frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night. 

Have any other tips to getting a good night’s sleep? Let us know in the comments!

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