6 Science-Backed Ways to Fall (and Stay) Asleep
For some of us, falling asleep is only half the battle—waking up throughout the night is no less of a struggle, particularly when you're trying to work through the resulting haze of fatigue the following day. But since scientists only seem to deem proper sleep more important all the time, poor shut-eye should never be ignored. You don't have to chalk it up to genetics—with insomnia, there could be quite an array of factors at play. Like, say, your coziest flannel pajamas. Or your love of Snapchat's deer filter.
A quality night of rest can only happen when your body cycles through its sleep phases properly and efficiently, so it's essential to make sure that you're creating the ideal conditions for that to happen. There's a science to it—so below, find some research-backed lifestyle tweaks that will ensure your dreamiest night of sleep ever.
1. Avoid caffeine after 12 p.m.
Research shows that drinking coffee even a whole six hours before bedtime can seriously interfere with sleep quality. If you need an afternoon boost, try some green tea or Sun Potion Mucuna Pruriens ($37), it's an herbal supplement that we love for instant energy and focus.
2. Exercise regularly—but not in the evening.
According to research, exercising for at least 150 minutes a week (which is totally doable, by the way) can improve sleep quality up to 65%. That being said, there are also studies that suggest that exercising right before bed can make it tougher for some people to fall asleep.
3. Cut off alcohol consumption 1 to 2 hours before bed.
Even if you swear that glass of wine makes you sleepy, it can seriously mess with your shut-eye later on in the night. Studies show that drinking alcohol too close to bedtime reduces REM sleep, the dreaming stage of sleep that is also considered highly restorative. Ideally, we cycle through REM sleep several times throughout the night—and messing with that can result in irritability, poor concentration, and general fatigue.
4. Sleep with your feet outside the covers.
Weird but true: Because your body naturally cools down when you sleep, you'll snooze best at temps on the lower side of mild (most experts say that's around 65 degrees). And believe it or not, the soles of your feet are biologically designed to dissipate body heat—which is why leaving one or both outside your comforter will keep you from overheating.
5. Shut off your electronic devices 2 hours before bed.
You've heard it before, but the research doesn't lie: Not only can the blue light from your iPhone interfere with your ability to fall (and stay) asleep, but just the thought of having it in arm's reach (Must check Snapchat! I mean, work emails!) can also trigger anxiety. Just ask our editor who finally made her bedroom an electronic-free zone—game-changer.
6. Take magnesium.
It's basically nature's sleeping pill. Studies show that taking this mineral before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster and for longer, and that it even counteracts high levels of cortisol, your body's stress hormone.