Develop a nighttime routine
Before going to bed, it is highly advisable to follow a series of steps or habits every single night. This step can be any habit or chore that is relaxing, such as removing your makeup, taking a bath, or even drinking a glass of milk. By following these series of steps, you can program your brain to start shutting down and unwinding from the moment that you do the first step. This ensures that by the time you finish the last step, your brain is no long over-stimulated and it is ready to shut down completely during sleep. This also helps your brain start unwinding at a certain time of the day, which will make it easier for you to sleep on cue or according to your schedule.
Do not drink anything that can keep you awake
Almost all doctors agree that ingesting or using any type of substance that can keep you awake at least three hours before going to bed is not advisable. These substances include alcohol, coffee, or anything that has caffeine and nicotine. This is because even if you fall asleep after ingesting or using them, the quality of your sleep will be significantly lowered since your brain is still stimulated. Hence, your brain will not be able to fully rest while sleeping. These substances will cause you to periodically wake up during your sleep or make you feel tired once you wake up.
Sleeping even if you are not too tired should be avoided
While taking short, less than 30-minute naps even if you are not too tired is acceptable, trying to fall completely asleep even if you are not too tired is not. This is because doing so will make it harder for your body and brain to completely rest and shut down if you engage in a very strenuous activity. Hence, it is advisable to avoid sleeping for more than three hours due to boredom or after you have eaten.
Taking a nap before you actually sleep should also be avoided
Aside from disrupting your sleep-wake cycle, taking a nap at least 30 minutes before you actually sleep for a longer period of time can also make it harder for you to do so. It can also lessen the quality of your actual sleep since you are basically sending your brain confusing signals on when to really unwind and shut down.
By following these steps, you will be able to reap the benefits of having well-rested sleep. You will also be able to avoid certain problems that come with not having restful sleep, such as having a weaker immune system.
I've run my own sports nutrition consultancy and am interested in all things health, diet and nutrition. I also have an IBS which took me a while to sort out via reinvesting into my microbiome. I'm a big fun of a British nutrition superstar and the author of 'Clever Guts', medical doctor Michael Mosley.