1) Sleep in darkness
Back when we were cave people, we slept in darkness. Cooling your room at bedtime can help you nod off nicely – but darkness is key. Look at your room with the lights off to check for light sources. A streetlight aimed at your window, nightlights, or sensors on the cable box or phone chargers can all be light sources that throw off your rhythms. Adjusting curtains, changing bulbs, and putting a bit of tape over small light leaks can get you to the proper state of darkness for good sleep.
2) Wake with light
Humans evolved waking to sunlight and it remains a beneficial wake trigger. If you sleep with blackout curtains or a sleep mask, it prevents sunlight from reaching you neglecting the wake trigger of your circadian rhythm. Waking properly helps you fall asleep more easily at night. Invest in a wake-up light alarm. These devices gradually lighten your room to wake you at the optimal time. Other beneficial sleep accessories include a quality mattress and a programmable thermostat.
3) Minimize light disruption at night
In addition to falling asleep in darkness, you should avoid light disruptions during the night. Don’t turn on the bathroom or other lights if you get up during the night. The worst lights for you at night are white and blue light. Install red light nightlights so you can avoid lights that jar you awake during sleep hours. If you ever need to walk around your house at night, consider a red or amber flashlight instead of flipping on lamps or overheads. This will prevent full wakefulness, so you can get back to sleep.
4) Make smart choices with devices
A couple of hours before bed, turn off blue light-emitting devices to fall asleep faster. This includes your TV, smartphone, and tablet. If you absolutely must watch TV or read a tablet before bed, consider wearing amber blue-blocker glasses starting a couple of hours before bedtime. Blue light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep. Blue-blocker glasses are scientifically shown to prevent melatonin suppression and let you continue screen time without snooze disruption.
5) Listen to your body
Our bodies are built to respond to the sleep and wake triggers of dark and light. By creating artificial triggers using light sources, you can manage your circadian rhythms, keep your melatonin production on track and get better sleep. When you get sleepy at night, listen to your body, and go lie down. Don’t try and force yourself to stay awake to finish a show or a chapter. Try to avoid day napping (unless you’re sick) to keep your natural rhythms healthy and in-tune with proper sleep.
About Author: Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. Her preferred research topics are health and wellness, so Amy’s a regular reader of Scientific American and Nature. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.