SET THE STAGE FOR SLEEP
Put your pillow to the test: If you're not lying on a pillow that effectively cradles your head and neck, you're creating unnecessary muscle tension, which can leave you feeling drained when you wake up. To tell if your pillow is doing its job, lay it over your extended arm. Does it have a slight fold or does it hang there like a saddlebag? If it collapses, your pillow is past its prime.
Ready, set, smell: Lavender, chamomile and jasmine are known for their soothing and relaxing nature.
• Lavender: Research has shown that breathing the aroma of lavender oil before bed produces sedative effects and raises the amount of slow-wave (the most restorative) sleep.
• Chamomile: The smell of chamomile has been shown to promote sleep. In fact, people who drank chamomile tea after dinner were more relaxed than those who drank hot water, Japanese researchers found.
• Jasmine: Let this fragrance permeate your bedroom. Study participants who breathed in jasmine-infused air experienced improved sleep quality and reported feeling lower levels of anxiety the next day. Set an oil diffuser with the scent on your nightstand.
Make your bed: A National Sleep Foundation poll in 2011 found that people who made their bed every day were more likely to report sleeping well than those who didn't. It's unclear why pulling up your covers, tucking everything in and fluffing those pillows on rising might bring pleasant dreams, but who's to argue with the facts.
Work in wind-down time: Experts recommend setting an alarm to remind you when to start a realizing activity, such as reading a book, and when to close up shop. Staying on schedule will help you get more reliable sleep. Also consider an electronic curfew. Computers, TVs and smartphones emit brain-stimulating light that can sabotage rest, so shut off gadgets an hour before bed.
Go easy on fast food: A study published in the International Journal of Obesity suggests that the more fat there is in your diet, the less peacefully you'll slumber. Fast food, red meat and cream-or cheese-based meals are hard to digest—which makes your GI tract work overtime when your body is trying to rest. Fatty foods also can contribute to acid reflux and wake you up.
Lower the thermostat: rather than spending your night kicking off the covers and then pulling them on again, try to choose a comfortable nighttime temperature and stick with it. To best induce sleep, keep your bedroom between 65 and 70 degrees, experts say.