Getting quality sleep each night is important for your physical, mental and emotional health, and is vital for injury recovery and optimizing physical performance. Many of us may have difficulty with falling asleep, staying asleep or achieving good quality sleep. It is important to practice good sleep habits as better sleep has been linked to improved immune system function, improved mood and decreased anxiety. Incorporate these habits into your routine and create the ideal environment for quality, restful sleep!

1. Keep your room cool and comfortable

The ideal temperature for sleep has been shown to be around 65 degrees F with a range between 60-67 degrees. Our bodies go through a slight drop in body temperature in the evening before bedtime, and keeping a cool room can help prepare our bodies for sleep.

2. Limit “screen time” and blue light exposure 1-2 hours before bed

Electronic devices such as computer screens, smartphones, and TV emit blue light which can disrupt our circadian rhythm and trick our brain and body into thinking it is still daytime. To reduce blue light exposure, avoid watching TV or scrolling through your smartphone 1-2 hours before bed, and consider wearing glasses that specifically block blue light.

3. Create a relaxing pre-bedtime routine

Creating a routine to help relax your mind and body before bed can help ease the transition to sleep. This can include taking a hot bath or shower, deep breathing exercises, meditation, a stretching routine, listening to relaxing music or reading a book. Diffusing essential oils that have relaxing effects such as lavender might also help to create a calming environment.

4. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule

Our circadian rhythms help to coordinate our sleep and wake cycles that are associated with light in the morning and darkness in the evening. Going to sleep and waking up at consistent times can help our body get into a regular routine.

5. Avoid foods that disrupt sleep

Consuming alcohol close to bedtime can disrupt specific stages of our sleep cycle and decrease overall sleep quality. Caffeine, which is a stimulant, should also be avoided as caffeine reduces the amount of time we spend in the deep restful stage of sleep. It is recommended to avoid alcohol 4 hours before sleep and avoid caffeine 6 hours before sleep.

6. Don’t stay awake in bed if you can’t sleep

If you find yourself tossing and turning and unable to sleep, get out of bed after 20 minutes and do something relaxing like reading or listening to music. When you feel tired then return to your bed and try again.

7. Exercise! But try to exercise earlier in the day

Regular exercise has been shown to decrease the amount of time needed to fall asleep and also increase total sleep time. However high intensity exercise in the evening can cause an increase in release of stimulatory hormones and make it difficult for our bodies to relax before bed. Try to finish high intensity exercise at least 3 hours before bed if you have difficulty sleeping. Each person is different so you may find that exercising in the evening does not affect your ability to fall asleep.

8. Reduce irregular or long naps

Those who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep may wish to avoid napping as this can interfere with a regular sleep schedule.

9. Get natural light during the day

Try to get exposure to natural sunlight first thing in the morning. This can help your body get into a healthy sleep-wake cycle.