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3 Ways To Get Better Sleep Tonight

Practical steps to reclaim your most powerful brain booster


By Austin Perlmutter, MD

 



Sleep is probably the single most powerful way to reliably and dramatically enhance your brain performance. Many people don’t prioritize quality shuteye (I’ve been one of them!). But it’s also true that billions of people around the world struggle with conditions like insomnia. Like anything else related to the brain, sleep is a complex topic with lots of nuance. However, in this article, I’ll cover 3 of the most important (and easiest) ways to enhance your sleep tonight and talk about who might benefit from additional help.


Tip 1: Control your bedroom temperature and noise

In our modern lives, we’re often unaware of how much our sleep routine can be corrupted by simple environmental influences. Exposure to bright light at night has the potential to throw our entire sleep cycle into disarray by suppressing the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Noises in the bedroom, even the ones that don’t actually wake us up, are another subtle (or not so subtle, if you sleep with a snorer) way our sleep can be compromised. To create an optimal sleeping environment:


  • Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom, and use lower intensity light before bed.

  • Do some basic soundproofing of the bedroom (like carpet, curtains, well-sealed windows), and consider investing in a white noise machine.

  • Regulate the temperature of your bedroom – research suggests that a cooler room with adequate ventilation promotes better sleep.


Tip 2: Nix the unneeded PM stressors

Our brains are designed to keep us alive, first and foremost. If we carry too much stress into the bedroom, it makes it hard for our brains to feel comfortable enough to choose sleep. I fully appreciate that we can’t remove all major stressors from our lives. Yet, there are some simple steps to reduce their effects on our sleep:


  • Limit news and screen time before bed as they can stimulate your brain and disrupt your ability to fall asleep.

  • Limit nonessential stressful conversations before bed.

  • Instead of an activating read or show, try a meditation, a breathing exercise, a bath, shower, or a cup of decaf tea.

  • Still stressed in bed? Consider writing down your concerns on a notecard next to your bed. This offloading strategy can help your brain relax.

 





Tip 3: Be careful with caffeine

Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug on earth. Yes, you read that right! Caffeine is a drug with objective effects on our brain chemistry and function. While many people enjoy a cup or two of morning coffee (which is packed with a number of other brain-friendly nutrients), we need to be cautious later in the day. Caffeine has a half-life of around 6 hours, which means that if you drink a cup of coffee at 3 PM, you still have half the caffeine in your system at 9 PM that night. To avoid caffeine-related sleep disturbances:


  • Cut back on caffeine after 2PM, or consider 12 PM if you want to be safer.

  • Be aware of hidden sources of caffeine like certain teas, soft drinks, and even chocolate.


Adding content to your blog on sleep enhancement is a great way to provide valuable information to your readers. Building on the excellent points you’ve already made, here’s an expanded section with more detail and additional tips:

Sleep is probably the single most powerful way to reliably and dramatically enhance your brain performance. Many people don’t prioritize quality shuteye (I’ve been one of them!). But it’s also true that billions of people around the world struggle with conditions like insomnia. Like anything else related to the brain, sleep is a complex topic with lots of nuance. However, in this article, I’ll cover 3 of the most important (and easiest) ways to enhance your sleep tonight and talk about who might benefit from additional help.

  1. Control your bedroom temperature and noise

  • Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom, and use lower intensity light before bed.

  • Do some basic soundproofing of the bedroom (like carpet, curtains, well-sealed windows), and consider investing in a white noise machine.

  • Regulate the temperature of your bedroom – research suggests that a cooler room with adequate ventilation promotes better sleep.

  1. Nix the unneeded PM stressors

  • Limit news and screen time before bed as they can stimulate your brain and disrupt your ability to fall asleep.

  • Limit nonessential stressful conversations before bed.

  • Instead of an activating read or show, try a meditation, a breathing exercise, a bath, shower, or a cup of decaf tea.

  • Still stressed in bed? Consider writing down your concerns on a notecard next to your bed. This offloading strategy can help your brain relax.

  1. Be careful with caffeine

  • Cut back on caffeine after 2PM, or consider 12 PM if you want to be safer.

  • Be aware of hidden sources of caffeine like certain teas, soft drinks, and even chocolate.



Who should consider further evaluation?


The simple tips above can be game-changers for sleep. But they’re not going to work for everyone, nor will they address more complex sleep issues. If you’re struggling with getting good sleep, despite trying the basics, consider getting evaluated for conditions like obstructive sleep apnea/OSA (this may affect over a hundred million Americans), restless leg syndrome, and other disorders. Remember, sleep is not just a luxury, it's a vital component of your overall health. Consulting with a healthcare provider can provide tailored advice and treatment options.


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