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How to upgrade your sleep environment

Catching solid Z’s is a critical piece of the puzzle to staying healthy. But sleeping well may be easier said than done. One thing’s for sure: You can’t just expect it to happen. Here’s what the pros say about how to get better sleep.

1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

Consistent, regular bedtimes and rise times (even on weekends) make it easier to fall asleep and also help improve the quality of that sleep. Sleeping in when you can might sound fun, but staying on schedule will keep you on track. 

2. Time your blue light carefully. 

Banish blue light from your bedroom with a tech-free routine starting at least two hours before bedtime. But letting in natural blue light by opening your windows in the morning can help you feel alert by calibrating your circadian rhythm. 

3. Keep your bedroom cool in the evening.

Your body initiates sleep by lowering its core temperature. So things like taking a warm bath or keeping your room between 60 and 67 degrees will drop your body’s core temperature, sending the signal that it’s time to sleep. 

4. Do restorative stretching.

Holding deep, restorative stretches like child’s pose and pigeon pose, and controlling your breathing helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, so your body (and brain) get the message that it’s time to be calm and relax.

5. Time your exercise right.

Overall, fitting regular exercise into your lifestyle is thought to benefit sleep quality. However, exercising too close to bedtime can trigger increased cortisol levels, having the opposite effect.

6. Evaluate your relationship with caffeine and alcohol.

Even if alcohol helps you fall asleep, after a few hours it can disrupt your sleep cycles, cutting into your overall sleep quality. Your morning cup of joe could also also interfere with sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try herbal tea instead.