Waking up from a good night's sleep sounds more like a distant memory, even though it is the most basic human need (next to nutrition, of course). Performance, exercise and brain functions go down the drain, and the eye bags are not hiding it either. Here are some tips to help you sleep better at night.
Do mind your bedroom environment. This may be obvious, but many people forget its main function: sleep. Remember to separate work and rest, as having your work place in the same room as your bed can mess with your late-night thoughts. Another key aspect needed to set up a relaxed environment is bed quality. Your pillows, bedding and mattress should feel comfortable - and not too old. You don't have to go full-on Feng shui, but put some effort into your furniture setup and invest into plants for oxygen optimization.
Don't allow any light source in your room at night. Our circadian rhythm (something like a natural clock that tells us when to be awake) heavily depends on light sources, and is easily tricked when a bright light from a phone or laptop screen is emitted at night. That is why blue lights should be avoided at least an hour before going to bed, otherwise it might affect your sleep.
Do maximize exposure to bright light during the day. Similarly to the point above, the circadian rhythm needs to be exposed to bright light sources during the day to decrease its melatonin levels and keep you awake. So do step outside and catch some sunlight every day.
Don't eat late. This is especially hard when you only get home at 7 p.m., but generally a late meal can disrupt your hormone flow and have a negative impact on your sleep. The same applies to your caffeine intake: as much as you'd like to have that coffee at 5 p.m., it takes up to 6 hours to leave your blood stream and may prevent your nervous system from naturally relaxing in the evening.
There are, however, some foods and drinks that can help you fall and stay asleep, such as chamomile or fennel tea, warm milk, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds) to name a few.
Do regulate your room temperature. We've all experienced those long sleepless summer nights because of the stuffy heat. Generally, a cooler temperature of around 20°C is recommended. Again, your room should be as cave-like as possible: dark, cool, and quiet.
Don't take long, irregular naps throughout the day. As inviting as they sound, late naps can have an impact on your sleep quality. However, if you take regular day-time power naps, you should be fine.
Do sleep at consistent times. Unless you work irregular shifts, this shouldn't be a tough one to achieve. Waking at sleeping at similar times every day can help you sleep better, and you will find yourself waking naturally eventually.
Don't skip exercise. It helps battle insomnia, although scientists aren't 100% sure about the mechanism that is behind it. Do try to avoid late-night workouts, as they wake you up.
Do try activities such as journaling or reading. One of the main reason why many struggle to fall asleep is because they worry too much. The simplest things can come to mind - you forgot to switch off the bathroom lights or remembered yet another task for tomorrow - and keep you up worrying another half hour. Writing down your to-do list for the next day can keep you at ease as you're less likely to forget.
If you really can't sleep, do try natural remedies such as Valerian or lavender before going to sleep. A small dose should help you ease your mind and get a full night of sleep. (Otherwise, consult your physician to spot any potential sleeping disorders.)