10 of the Best (and Worst) Ways to Make Yourself Sleep

Lack of sleep leaves you feeling wiped out and can spell serious problems for your health. Climbing into bed at a decent time should do the trick, but turning off the lights and lying down doesn’t necessarily mean a swift drift to dreamland. Somewhere around 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even more have occasional difficulties. This really has to come to an end. After all, a lot of very successful people get plenty of shut-eye.

While most folks employ a few tricks to help them catch some more Zs, not all of them work. Some attempts to make yourself sleep could actually worsen the problem. Take a look at these worst and best strategies so you can start getting a more solid night’s sleep.

1. Worst: Using computers, smartphones, and other electronics

man on his computer in bed

Don’t be like this man staying up late on his computer. | iStock.com

Taking some time to unwind at the end of the day can help your body prepare for sleep. When bed time looms, many plop on the couch to watch TV, surf their favorite websites, or delve into a book on their electronic reading device. While it’s true these activities are low key, they can actually confuse your body’s internal clock into thinking sleep time is far away. One study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found those who read from a light-emitting device took longer to fall asleep and felt less alert the next day compared to folks who read from a regular book.

Researchers believe this has to do with the light produced by electronics at a time when our bodies are accustomed to dark. Exposing yourself to light from your phone, computer, TV, or any other electronic device sends the signal it isn’t time to sleep yet. A small study published in Current Biology indicated just how true this is by sending a group of eight participants to camp in the Rocky Mountains where they only experienced natural light. After a week, participants’ sleep cycles more closely aligned with the rising and setting of the sun.

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