The science: Studies have shown that moderate and regular physical activity has therapeutic and sleep promoting benefits. The most beneficial effect comes from aerobic endurance training and acute exercise that lasts for more than an hour. On the other hand, be careful not to take things too far. High intensity, exhaustive, long duration exercise may disrupt sleep by decreasing REM sleep and increasing wakefulness (Sherrill et al., 1998).
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day- yes, even on the weekends – can have a positive impact on your sleep. It will make it easier for you to fall asleep and more deeply.
The science: Studies suggest that trying to sleep earlier than your normal bedtime may result in difficulty falling asleep, while going to sleep much later than normal bedtime may result in more fragmented, shallow sleep (Stepanski & Wyatt, 2003).
Wind down from a long day and get better sleep by taking a bath about an hour and a half before going to bed. If you don’t have a bathtub, you could still reap the benefits by taking a 20 minute warm shower.
The science: A study showed that increasing body temperature through taking a warm bath before bedtime led to increased depth of sleep (Horne & Reid, 1985). Getting out of the warm bath and into your cooler bedroom leads your body temperature to drop, which signals your body that it is time to rest.
Wearing cozy socks when you go to sleep in order to keep the feet warm and induce your blood cells to widen and causing your muscles to relax – a process called vasodilation. You can take things a step further by keeping a warm water bottle at your feet.
The science: A study published in Nature found that vasodilation in the skin of the hands and feet was the best physiological predictor for the rapid onset of sleep. Keeping the hands and feet warm can rapidly induce vasodilation and thus promote a faster onset of sleep (Kräuchi, 1999).
The science: While alcohol has been shown to help you fall asleep faster, once it has been metabolized by your body you might experience more waking during the second half of your night. Further studies have shown that tolerance to alcohols sedative effects develops after 3 nights (Williams & Salamy, 1972).
Mindfulness techniques before the bed have been found to help people all asleep. One way to practice mindfulness is to sit still in a comfortable position and quietly focus on your natural breathing. Become aware of your body as you breath, release any tension, and let any stressful thoughts slowly slip from your mind. Find more tips for meditation and mindfulness here.
The science: Mindfulness meditation has been shown to significantly reduce insomnia, fatigue, and depression (Black et al., 2015). This works by inducing a relaxation response and relieving stress, which for many people lies at the root of their insomnia.