Tip #1: Keep a regular sleep schedule
Getting back in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle—your circadian rhythm—is one of the most important strategies for achieving good sleep. If you keep a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, you will feel much more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times. This holds true even if you alter your sleep schedule by only an hour or two. Consistency is important.
Tip #2: Naturally regulate your sleep-wake schedule
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin production is controlled by light exposure. Your brain should secrete more in the evening, when it’s dark, to make you sleepy, and less during the day when it’s light and you want to stay awake and alert. However, many aspects of modern life can disrupt your body’s natural production of melatonin, and with it your sleep-wake cycle. Spending long days in an office away from natural light, for example, can impact your daytime wakefulness and make your brain sleepy. Then bright lights at night – especially from hours spent in front of the TV or computer screen – can suppress your body’s production of melatonin and make it harder to sleep. However, there are ways for you to naturally regulate your sleep-wake cycle, boost your body’s production of melatonin, and keep your brain on a healthy schedule.
Tip #3: Create a relaxing bedtime routine
If you make a consistent effort to relax and unwind before bed, you will sleep easier and more deeply. A peaceful bedtime routine sends a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down and let go of the day’s stresses.
Tip #4: Eating right and Exercise
Your daytime eating and exercise habits play a role in how well you sleep. It’s particularly important to watch what you put in your body in the hours leading up to your bedtime. You’ll also sleep more deeply if you exercise regularly. You don’t have to be a star athlete to reap the benefits—as little as twenty to thirty minutes of daily activity helps. And you don’t need to do all thirty minutes in one session. You can break it up into five minutes here, ten minutes there, and still get the benefits. Try a brisk walk, a bicycle ride, or even gardening or housework.
Tip #5: Keep anxiety and stress in check
Do you find yourself unable to sleep or waking up night after night? Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well. When you wake up or can’t get to sleep, take note of what seems to be the recurring theme. That will help you figure out what you need to do to get your stress and anger under control during the day:
If you can’t stop yourself from worrying, especially about things outside your control, you need to learn how to manage your thoughts. For example, you can learn to evaluate your worries to see if they’re truly realistic and learn to replace irrational fears with more productive thoughts. Even counting sheep is more productive than worrying at bedtime.
If the stress of managing work, family, or auditions keeps you awake, you need help with stress management. By learning how to manage your time effectively, constructively handle stress, and maintain a calm, positive outlook, you’ll be able to sleep better at night.