9 Gross But Necessary Things To Do Before Bed To Get A Better Sleep
You probably already have a set nighttime routine that you follow in order to get ready for bed. And it may even include a few out-there habits that help you wind down and relax. But if you've been having trouble sleeping, or have been waking up feeling unrefreshed, it may be time to try a few tips to get even better sleep.
The most important thing to do, as recommended by many sleep experts, is to practice good sleep hygiene. That means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and making sure your bedroom is set up for optimal sleep. For example, you'll want to keep your bedroom cool and dark, block out any street noise, and make sure that you put your phone and/or laptop away well before you plan to pass out.
Sleep hygiene is all about winding down, relaxing, and sticking to a schedule. "Our bodies and minds respond well to routine," Mike Kisch, sleep expert and CEO/co-founder of Beddr, tells Bustle. "The more consistent we can be in the time we go to bed and the time we wake up, the more we train our bodies and our circadian rhythms." And the more rested we feel. But it never hurts to add in a few extra rituals, such as these weird, interesting, and even slightly gross nighttime tips and tricks that can help you sleep better, according to experts.
1. Get Ready To Sleep Naked
If you could really use a better night's sleep, do yourself a favor and get naked. Not only will this save you from waking up to readjust your pajamas throughout the night, but you'll also be starting a scientific chain reaction.
"Humans are endotherms, which means we regulate our own body temperature," Kisch says. "Our brain works throughout the day to ensure our core temperature stays around 98.6 degrees, despite external influences like your environment or exercise regime. Going to bed sans clothing makes it easier for our bodies to lower our skin temperature, which increases the depth of your sleep and reduces the number of times you wake up in the night."
2. Throw On Some Socks
While it might be annoying (or even impossible) to sleep with socks on the entire night, it's a good idea to slip a pair on as you climb into bed — even if the rest of you is naked.
"Warming your feet before bed facilitates vasodilation, which is the dilation of your blood vessels in your extremities," Kisch says. "When vasodilation occurs in your hands and feet, it opens them up so they can redistribute heat throughout your body, regulating your body temperature and preparing you for sleep."
3. Spoon With A Pillow
There's a sleep condition known as sleep apnea that can cause a momentary pause in breathing during the night, leading sufferers to wake up a lot, and feel extra tired in the morning. If you have sleep apnea, it's something you should have monitored by a doctor, and it'll be important to follow their advice for what to do next.
But one way to reduce the effects of sleep apnea is by sleeping on your side. "Sleeping on your side is one quick and easy way to reduce the number of times that you stop breathing because while on your side most people are less likely to have their airway fully collapse," Kisch says.
And that's where the pillow spooning comes into play. "To spend more time on your side, take a reasonably large pillow and place both arms around it and spoon the pillow like you would a loved one," Kisch says. "This will make it more difficult for your body to rotate [onto your] back. After doing this for a week or two, you will have started to train your body to spend more of the night on your side and your breathing should improve."
4. Breathe Through Your Left Nostril
If you're like most people and feel like your brain is in overdrive well into the night, you might find that you sleep more soundly after doing a few deep breathing techniques — especially if you do so out of your left nostril.
"In Vedic tradition, each nostril is associated with two very different energies," Erin Berman, lifestyle and wellness expert at Nectar Sleep, tells Bustle. "When we breathe through the right nostril, we are energized and stimulated. When we breathe through the left nostril, we relax and calm down."
Before bed, take a moment to "breathe long and deeply through the left nostril," she says. "Take as long and deep breaths as you can — see how few times you can breathe per minute without causing any stress by holding your breath. Do this for a few minutes to relax." And you should have better sleep.
5. Sit On The Floor & Meditate
Meditating can also be a big help, especially if you're prone to stress and anxiety. "The more active our brains are, the more difficult it is to go to sleep," Kisch says. "One tip is to meditate for 10 minutes before you go to bed to quiet your mind and center yourself on your breathing. This small investment in mindfulness should help you more easily transition to a state of peaceful slumber."
6. Make Your Room Super Cold
Nothing can make for a good night's sleep quite like the combination of a chilly room plus warm blankets. So go ahead and lower the heat, open a window, or a turn on a fan before bed.
"While this might seem like overkill, the human body sleeps better in cold temperatures," Berman says. "Pile on the blankets or buy a weighted blanket, which are proven to help your body feel safe and relax deeper."
6. Try To Stay Awake
If you're lying in bed, staring at the clock and unable to fall asleep, it may help to get up and do the exact opposite. Try to stay awake, walk around your apartment, and turn your brain back on — until you feel sleepy again.
"Instead of worrying about falling asleep, think about staying awake," Dr. Sujay Kansagra, sleep health expert at Mattress Firm, tells Bustle. "This often lessens anxiety and gives your mind a chance to relax enough to fall asleep. It’s a technique known as paradoxical intent."
It's way better than lying in bed, willing yourself asleep and worrying that you'll be tired in the morning. When that happens, simply get up, try this trick, and then go back to bed.
7. Drink Warm Milk & Honey
While it may sound like a gross combo, there's a reason people have been drinking warm milk with honey before bed for centuries. "Turns out the warmed sugar and fat really [can] combine to promote sleep," Dr. Benjamin Smarr, a Reverie Sleep Advisory Board Member, tells Bustle. So pop a mug in the microwave, and see how it makes you feel.
8. Soak In The Tub
Even if you aren't much of a "bath before bed" type of person, warming up with a quick soak or shower can make all the difference when it comes to getting better sleep.
As Dr. Kansagra says, "The body temperature drops when we fall asleep. Taking a hot nighttime shower just before bedtime artificially raises the body temperature. The subsequent fast drop can make it easier to fall asleep and get you in the mindset for bed."
9. Have Sex
Whether with a partner or solo, doing the deed before bed can help you fall into a deeper sleep. "Having sex helps you fall asleep due to the hormones released during it," sleep coach Peter Conley tells Bustle. While it doesn't have to be a part of your regular routine, it might be just what you need if you can't fall asleep.
These sleep tricks can come in handy whenever you find yourself struggling to sleep, or if you've been waking up feeling unrefreshed. Do keep in mind, though, that more basic things — like going to bed at the same time each night, and maintaining good sleep hygiene — are important, too.