Getting a good night’s sleep is something that many people struggle with. Constant demands like work, kids, social life, make it challenging to turn everything off when it’s time to go to bed. These eight tips will not only make it easier to fall asleep, but also get the most restful sleep possible.
1. Limiting Caffeine Intake
This may seem obvious, but the more caffeine ingested, the more insomnia appears. A 2015 study found that caffeine actually creates a vicious cycle, where sleep deprivation leads to more caffeine consumption, which in turn leads to more sleep deprivation.  To Counteract this, The Sleep Foundation recommends not consuming caffeine six hours before sleeping, ensuring it has been completely metabolized before going to bed. 
2. Drinking Water or Tea
Instead of caffeine, try drinking water or decaffeinated tea. The hydration that comes from these liquids before bed may prevent headaches, limit muscle and tissue pain, and in hot climates may allow you to sweat more, keeping you cool. Just be careful not to drink too much, or it could lead to nocturia.
3. Using Thermoregulation Before Bed
Speaking of staying cool while you sleep, one of the major factors that impacts falling asleep is called thermoregulation. How to thermoregulate will depend on the atmospheric climate, but in winter it requires getting warm and cozy, and in the summer it requires cooling off. Depending on what temperature your body needs to reach, it may require getting under the covers to lull you to sleep, or turning on the air conditioning to help achieve maximum relaxation.
4. Get plenty of Exercise
The American Heart Association recommends adults get 150 minutes of “moderate-intensity aerobic” exercise or 75 minutes of “vigorous aerobic activity” per week to improve sleep quality. Dr. Charlene Gamado, the medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, corroborates this, pointing out that doing 30 minutes of aerobic exercise can lead to better sleep that very night. Dr. Gamado does warn not to exercise too late, though, as this may lead to an energizing effect in some people.
5. Using White Noise to Create a Pavlovian Effect
Pavlov’s dogs are famous for the knowledge they provide about behavioral conditioning. Instead of salivating when a whistle is blown, using white noise to create an audio cues can be used to activate subconscious sleepiness. One study conducted on newborns found white noise can lead to increased levels of both REM and non-REM sleep. This may not work for everyone, as some people prefer to sleep in complete silence, but Pavlovian responses can be overwhelming for those who properly condition themselves.
6. Turning Off the Screens
A Harvard Medical School study found that nearly 90% of Americans use some kind of electronic device within one hour of going to sleep, to negative effect. The study attributes the loss of sleep to short-wavelength-enriched light being emitted by most electronic devices and the potential this light has to limit melatonin. The CDC also corroborates this by pointing out that blue light (from LED lights and backlit electronic streams) can increase alertness during the day, but may lead to increased wakefulness at night. To avoid this, make sure to turn off all screens at least a half hour before lights out.
7. Read a Book
Instead of using electronics before bed, try reading a book to de-stress. In one study, as many as 42% of people felt that their sleep quality improved when they read before bed. Reading not only lowers your exposure to blue light, it may be possible to give your brain a small workout to help ease into sleep. Try combining this with the thermoregulation advice in number 3 for maximum benefits.
8. Avoid Excessive Chemical Reliance
For some, over the counter sleep aids may seem like the answer. But it is important to avoid consuming excessive amounts that may be counterproductive in the long run. Melatonin has been shown to help people fall asleep, sleep longer, and improve their quality of sleep. However, there are also conflicting studies that indicate Melatonin may have no discernible effect on sleep at all. While it may be tempting to rely on alcohol or benzodiazepines to fall asleep quickly, the downsides outweigh the positives. Both may make it easier to fall asleep, but they both can lead to excessive hangovers. As well, alcohol can limit REM sleep in large doses and benzodiazepines can contribute to rebound insomnia when going through withdrawal. 
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