Special Report

19 Secrets to Sleep Better at Night

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6. Keep the same bedtime routine, even on weekends

People struggling with sleep should really do their best to stick to the same bedtime hours, sleep experts say. This is how they will program their internal clock, which starts ticking in the morning. The time people go to bed is affected by the time they wake up, Dr. Mayank Shukla, a sleep medicine specialist in New York, explained. The more bedtime hours vary from night to night, the harder it becomes for the body to fall asleep when you try to.

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7. Make the room very dark

Circadian rhythm, which is basically the body’s internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals, responds to light, Tal noted. When any light hits the eyes, it stimulates a nerve pathway to the brain, and wakefulness hormones are produced, he explained.

Artificial light tricks the body into slowing its production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep, which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, Smith explained. “Even light from an alarm clock can have an effect on sleep quality, so it’s best to eliminate [light] as much as possible.”

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8. Breathe deeply

One technique Tal recommends to help falling asleep is diaphragmatic breathing. This kind of deep breathing, also called “abdominal breathing” or “belly breathing,” helps slow down the heartbeat and lower the blood pressure, which helps the body enter the phase of deep sleep. You’re supposed to breathe in slowly through your nose and let the air in all the way down to your lower belly. Then tighten the abdominal muscles as you breathe out through the mouth.

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9. Take a warm bath

For one, taking a warm bath is relaxing. But it’s the getting out of it part that counts when it comes to tricking the body into going to bed, according to Tal. A body’s temperature naturally decreases at night. A warm bath would increase it. The shock of cold once you leave the bathroom mimics the body’s decrease in temperature when it’s time to go to sleep, he explained.

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10. Ditch the electronic devices

Phones, laptops, TV, and all kinds of devices that emit light have no place in bed or the bedroom, according to sleep consultants. The light that comes from the screens can block the brain’s production of melatonin, which plays a role in regulating sleep-wake cycles, Shukla explained. The body needs darkness to produce this sleep hormone. Reading or listening to music are better options for winding down at night than watching TV, Smith added.