1. Experiment with your optimal number of sleep hours
Experts say that most people need seven or seven and a half hours sleep each night rather than the commonly understood eight hours. The perfect number of hours for you will leave you rested, but also on the next day tired at the same time as the night before. Experiment with more or less each night until you hit the golden number. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day will also help condition your body for regular and deep sleep.
2. Avoid screen reading before going to bed (including your phone!)
Science has shown exposure to artificial light before going to bed can increase alertness and suppress the release of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. Which means putting away the phone, laptop and switching off the television at least 30 minutes before sleep.
3. Invest in a decent pillow
Whether it’s a 400+ thread count pillow case, goose down stuffing or memory foam, your head is going to spend one-third of your life on a pillow, so you might as well invest in a decent one.
4. Try 15 minutes of meditation before you go to sleep
Recent research has shown mindfulness techniques result in a decrease in the time it takes to fall asleep, as well as improvements in total sleep time and sleep efficiency.
5. Share your bed, but not your blanket
There’s a simple solution to end that nightly tug-a-war with your co-sleeper: two blankets, one decent evening of sleep.
6. Think yourself to sleep
Having trouble getting to sleep? Sleep Doctor Michael Breus recommends counting backwards from 300 by threes. It’s his modification of counting sheep, which research has shown is too easy to be effective. He says of his mental maths, “this forces me to focus enough to blocks out stressors, but at the same time, it’s really boring and puts me right to sleep. I guarantee that even if you do it every night for a month, you still won’t make it to the single digits.”
Another tip is to start thinking psychedelic thoughts - imagine animals, creatures, people and places all behaving surreally such as changing shapes and colours the same way they do in dreams. And soon you’ll be dreaming for real.
7. Buy an eyemask
Blocking out the light is a vital part of getting a decent (morning’s) sleep. If your curtains aren’t thick enough consider buying an eyemask to achieve perfect, womb-like darkness. And on the flip side, if you have trouble waking up start the day with opening your curtains. Morning light activates cells in the brain that coordinates with our circadian rhythms.
8. Wake up when you’re naturally near surfacing with the “Sleep Cycle” alarm clock
Waking up to an alarm clock can feel like a slap in the face. Instead download the smartphone app “Sleep Cycle” which uses the accelerometer in your iPhone to measure your sleep phases, and then wakes you up in the lightest sleep phase within a set time period. Which means you’ll be waking when you’re naturally close to the surface anyway.