1. Eat more fiber.
Swap sugary, fatty foods for fiber-rich grains, veggies and fruit. You’ll not only fall asleep faster, you’ll spend more time in “slow-wave sleep,” the deep, restorative slumber that leaves you ready to tackle the world. In a new study, researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center found that even a single day of better eating led to improved sleep.
2. Change bulbs.
Energy-efficient bulbs may be good for the environment, but they’re a menace to sleep, producing more snooze-disrupting blue light than old-fashioned incandescent ones. Instead, screw in a low-wattage conventional red bulb or consider “smart” LEDs for your bedside lamp, which transition from energizing white light in the morning to calming, orange-hued light before bedtime.
3. Nix the eight-hour rule.
Our sleep needs vary, experts say. People thrive on anywhere from seven to nine hours a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. “Eight hours is just an average and most people aren’t average, especially those who are struggling with sleep,” says sleep expert Colleen Ehrnstrom, Ph.D. New research suggests seven hours might actually be the sweet spot when it comes to optimal cognitive and physical health.
4. Toss your alarm clock.
The jarring buzz of an alarm can contribute to the groggy, half-awake state known as sleep inertia. To avoid this, consider switching to an alarm clock that mimics a natural sunrise through dawn-simulation and nature sounds, such as birds or ocean waves. Several studies have shown gradual light exposure increases alertness, enhances mental and physical performance, and improves mood. Try special alarm clocks or apps such as Morning Sun for iPhone or Glimmer for Android.
Related: The New Secrets of Perfect Sleep