- Establish a routine: Go to bed and wake up at regular times every day—even on weekends, suggests Anandhi Murugan, M.D., a sleep medicine specialist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Figure out a way to relax by drinking milk or listening to music. Try to stay alert all day without the use of stimulants—especially caffeine—and avoid taking a nap. If you must, sleep 10 to 15 minutes and no longer than 45 minutes.
- Cool heads prevail: Keep the room cool and your head outside of the covers. “Our head is very vascular, so if the room is cool, our body is cool—even if you need to use blankets to stay warm,” says Robert Oexman, founder of the Sleep to Live Institute in Joplin, Missouri. “The critical part of our body can stay warm under the blanket, but by keeping our head exposed, it actually keeps our core body temperature lower.”
- Turn out the lights: Dim the lights about an hour before bed and make the room completely dark while you sleep. “If we expose ourselves to light prior to going to sleep, we decrease our ability to go to sleep and decrease the quality of sleep,” Oexman says. “The light reduces melatonin, one of the cues our bodies use to fall asleep.”
- Limit noise: If your partner snores, seek help from a sleep specialist. “You will not get used to it and it will disturb your sleep,” Oexman says. Try white noise from a fan or sound machine that’s not music or television. “They work very, very well to help drown out some of that snoring noise. If it’s still an issue, use earplugs. If they’re too uncomfortable, cut them in half.”
- Exercise early: Hitting the gym late elevates your core body temperature at bedtime. “Mid to late afternoon is the best time to exercise,” Oexman says. “The worst time is right before you go to bed.”
- Cut the caffeine: Switch to decaf by 2:30 p.m., suggests Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep.
- No more tug-of-war: Sleep disruptions often occur when partners run hot and cold. “Use a twin-size cover for each of you,” Oexman says. “They will allow you to sleep together so you are not pulling and tugging on sheets all night. You have one comfort level and your partner has another.”