Why Going to Bed Only When Sleepy Improves Sleep Quality

Why Going to Bed Only When Sleepy Improves Sleep Quality

While ultimately the goal is to start getting to bed at the same time most nights and sleep the same amount of time most nights, if you’re struggling with nighttime anxiety and after giving it a really good try you still can’t sleep, it’s better to get up and do quiet things than lay there and struggle. 

To ensure that you go to bed sleepy and sleep well at night, even if you’re a night owl, try these tips:

    Start Winding Down Early – When you know you have issues being tired when you go to bed, make sure you do what you can to be tired. Try starting earlier, winding your day down. For example, instead of watching a late movie at night after dinner, try reading a book or coloring to avoid stimulating your brain too much with TV. 

    Turn off Blue Light Early – The lights that come from your smartphone, laptop, and PC have blue light that can affect your circadian rhythm and disturb your sleep cycle in big ways. However, if you can arrange to avoid blue light after work at all, it may clear itself up. 

    Turn Down Your Room Light Early – Instead of having bright lights on in the house after you eat dinner at night, once you’ve cleaned up and everyone has finished their chores and homework, lower the light in the house, whether it’s electronic light or sunlight coming through the windows. Making it darker sooner will trigger your brain to know it’s nighttime. 

    Turn Off the Electronics Early – All the electronics in your home are not only interfering with your ability to get to sleep, but they’re also sucking up a lot of energy. So turn off the TV, eliminate all the flashing lights around your house and especially your bedroom sooner rather than later. 

    Avoid Bad News Early – If you already know you have trouble sleeping when you get bad news, why give yourself a chance. Turn off the news on the TV, turn off the news on your smartphone, and focus on something else. You don’t need to know what’s happening at every single moment 99 percent of the time. If you have no control over something, you may as well not pay attention right now so you can sleep. 

    Eat Right and Avoid Caffeine – Lots of food has caffeine in it and can disturb your sleep pattern. You should avoid caffeine completely if you are experiencing anxiety and more sleepless nights than not, but most people can simply enjoy their caffeine in the morning before 10 am and not after and be fine. 

    Exercise Early in the Day – Some types of exercise can be good for helping you sleep, but oxygen pumping moves should be done sooner in the day, if not the morning, if you can arrange it. For example, after dinner, a nice stroll outside, or a slow yoga flow will usually be fine if you’re focused on slow moves and slowing your breathing and not aerobics. 

    Watch Your Sunlight Intake – This may seem strange, but if you get too much sun, it will keep you awake too. Try avoiding sunlight after dinner, so your body has time to wind down from the day and get the information that it’s time to sleep. 

The fact is, if you’re not tired, you’re not going to sleep. So it’s important to use up your energy during the day and feed yourself, your mind, and your body at the right times to accommodate your need for nighttime sleep. 

Even if you get to bed late one night due to not being tired yet, don’t get up late the next day. Eventually, if you stick to the schedule, it’ll work itself out unless you have a medically recognized circadian rhythm disorder. In that case, going to a specialized sleep clinic can help you. 

Going to bed only when sleepy is an effective strategy to improve your sleep quality. This tip is part of our series on 10 Proven Tips to Avoid Insomnia and Sleep Better Every Night. To further improve your sleep, learn how to Deal with Stress to Improve Your Sleep.