If you struggle with feeling tired, you probably have heard about the benefits of getting more good quality sleep. Advice about sleeping usually starts with various bedtime routines. You hear that you should go to bed and wake up on a consistent schedule. In reality that’s much easier said than done.

If you have a day job, you pretty much have to get up when the alarm goes off. On the other hand, your bedtime is up to you, and that’s where your plans may go awry.

For all your good intentions, you find yourself binge watching your favorite TV shows or shopping online for those one day only sales until the wee hours. With only a few hours of sleep, you probably feel terrible the next day, and resolve to turn over a new leaf. Unfortunately, you spend the next night chatting on the phone with your old college roommate.

So how do you break the cycle? Changing habits can often be easier said than done. Here is a list of things you can do to help you go to bed earlier and wake up fresh in the morning.

Things to Do Before You Go to Bed

1.  Be specific. Set a time to go to bed rather than just leaving this vague. Simply count back 7 or 8 hours from the time you need to wake up. Then about 60 minutes before that time, start winding down so you’ll get your body ready for sleep.

2. Turn off electronic devices. Turn off your computer and TV at least an hour before bed. You’ll sleep better if you avoid lighted screens and mental stimulation.

3.  Create rituals. Engage in activities you will begin associating with going to bed. Take a warm bath and put on your pajamas. Drink a cup of herbal tea or gently massage and moisturize your feet. Take a few sniffs of your favorite calming essential oil, like lavender to begin calming your body.

4. Limit caffeine and alcohol. Coffee and cocktails can keep you up at night and interfere with the quality of your sleep. While you might be aware that coffee can have that effect, you might think that your favorite alcoholic drink or a glass of wine can help you relax. Unfortunately, alcohol can interfere with your sleep instead of help it. So if you are having problems sleeping, avoid java after 2 pm, and skip the nightcaps. This doesn’t mean you have to permanently give up alcohol completely, but until you’ve been able to get better sleep, avoid alcohol as much as possible in the evenings.

5. Turn down overtime. Studies show that working 50 hours or more a week dramatically impairs your sleep and productivity. You’ll feel happier and accomplish more if you leave the office at a reasonable hour.

6. Resist napping. While naps are usually an effective way to catch up on the rest you need, you want to stay awake while you’re adapting to a new schedule. If you’re struggling to keep your eyes open, remember that the discomfort is temporary.

7. Greet the sun. Light has a powerful impact on your brain. Exposure to morning sun will make you more alert and sync your internal clock so that you’ll be more drowsy later in the evening.

Things to Do After You Go to Bed

1. Stop worrying. Many adults with insomnia actually sleep more than they realize. It’s natural to wake up periodically during the night.

2. Try meditation. Deep meditation has many of the same health benefits as sleeping. Repeat a mantra or focus on your breathing while you’re waiting to drift off.

3. Grab a pillow. Maybe an aching back or stiff shoulders are making you toss and turn. Until you buy a new mattress, your old pillows can help. If you sleep on your side, put a cushion between your knees to align your hips. When you’re on your back, support your spine by placing a pillow under your thighs.

4. Set interim goals. Ultimately, you want to sleep through the night, but you can start off gradually. Promise yourself you’ll spend 30 minutes in bed. If you’re still wide awake, go do something boring until you’re ready to come back for another half hour.

Sleep plays an essential role in your health and wellbeing. To get different results than what you’re currently experiencing, you need to do things differently. So today, pick at least two of the above suggestions and promise to make yourself a priority!

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