If you’ve ever lived with someone who snores, you know firsthand how a lack of sleep can negatively impact your day. You’re fatigued, irritable, and not functioning close to your best. That’s true for anyone who misses some much-needed snoozing—snorer or not. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to make sure you’re getting the perfect amount of sleep for your body, whether that’s creating the most comfortable bedroom possible or having a melatonin-rich evening snack. Mental Floss and Cheribundi have teamed up to share these six simple tips—all backed by science—for increasing and improving your rest.
1. Optimize your bedroom for sleep.
Imagine that you’re walking into a calming, cool room in the evening, surrounded by relaxing colors and floating down onto a cloud of pillows, blankets, and a super comfy bed. It sounds like heaven—and it can be your reality. If you make your bedroom into a sanctuary for sleep, your brain will start to realize it’s bedtime once you head through the door. Set the temperature to about 65°F, the optimal temp for sleep. Paint the walls in a color that relaxes you. Put the electronics away. Keep your room tidy, and use the mattress, pillows, and blankets that you find the most comfortable. Your bedding should be made of natural fibers that breathe. Then, you’ll be counting down the minutes to bedtime.
2. Watch what you’re eating and drinking at night.
We all know not to drink a ton of caffeine before going to bed, but avoiding alcohol is a good idea, too. That glass of wine may make you feel relaxed in the short term, but overall, it’s going to put a hitch in your REM cycle. As far as food goes, don’t go to sleep too full or on a completely empty stomach. If you’re stuffed or starving, you’re going to struggle getting to sleep and staying asleep because you’re uncomfortable. Have a small snack before you go to bed if you need it, and try not to eat too much for dinner nor have it too late.
3. Sunbathe in the morning.
You don’t have to sunbathe sunbathe, but try to get at least some natural sunlight in the morning after you wake up. Natural light suppresses melatonin, so some exposure to the sun’s rays will help you start your day fresh and shake off any lingering drowsiness from sleep. As it gets later in the day, try to avoid being out in the sunlight for a long period of time so that you don’t discourage your body from creating melatonin in preparation for sleep. Taking sun time in the morning also helps you stay more awake throughout the day, which means you’ll be better prepped for sleep by the time you go to bed.
4. Hit the gym earlier in the day.
Pounding out 300 crunches right before bed is definitely not conducive to rest, so work exercise time into your morning or early afternoon routine. Studies show that a daytime exercise routine improves your quality of sleep that night—but don’t feel like you need to start hitting the gym every day for an hour if you don’t typically exercise. You can do small things to add more physical activity into your day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, or walking to the grocery store and carrying the bags back instead of driving. Also, make sure you’re getting up for a couple minutes at least once an hour; don’t just sit at your desk all day without a break. A less sedentary lifestyle is your ticket to a restful night.
5. Try some melatonin.
Melatonin’s a bit of a buzzword with sleep, but that’s for a good reason: It works. The hormone, produced in the pineal gland, has an almost hypnotic effect, lowering your body temperature and calming you down, creating the optimal mental and physiological for sleep. Even if you work the night shift, melatonin can help you get some sleep—regardless of where the sun is in the sky. Melatonin is sold in supplements, and you can add foods that have it into your dinner diet. Tart cherries have one of the highest concentrations of melatonin of all fruits (and they’re one of only a handful of fruits where it naturally occurs). Nuts, eggs, and fish are other great options.
6. Create a bedtime routine.
If we can learn anything from kids, it’s that a bedtime ritual helps us fall asleep. Set yourself a regular bedtime, then, about an hour before you want to sleep, begin winding down. You don’t need anyone to tuck you in and read you a story (unless you really enjoy that), but try shutting off your phone (it emits blue light that disrupts your circadian rhythms), drinking a cup of herbal tea, or reading. Almost any activity that helps your mind settle down from the day would be a good option.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your physical and mental health—and one way to achieve the rest your body needs is with the help of melatonin. Cheribundi tart cherry juice is packed with this powerful antioxidant, which is scientifically proven to promote deeper, more restful sleep. In addition to melatonin, tart cherries also include antioxidants and phytonutrients that studies have shown to cut down on muscle soreness and inflammation after workouts. Cheribundi was established 20 years ago, and is utilized by nearly 400 professional and collegiate sports teams in the U.S. today.