31 Tips To Help You Sleep Better Tonight

04/20/2015 07:59 am ET

If you're on your third cup of coffee today with no hope of shaking your sleepiness, this is for you.

We often refer to getting little sleep as an inevitability rather than a travesty -- but sleep deprivation is no joke. Skipping out on shuteye has been linked to weight gain, heart disease and a higher risk of stroke (uh... yikes).

Ready to log some more ZZZs? Below, we've rounded up some of the best ways to ensure a good night's sleep. Sweet dreams!

1. Try some meditation.
If you've ever tried to go to sleep with stress, you know the true value of a relaxed mind when you crawl into bed. Enter meditation. In addition to its long list of health perks, it also helps you fall asleep by keeping you calm. Try some of these techniques next time you're experiencing racing thoughts when your head hits the pillow.

2. Eat lean protein or foods high in magnesium.
Diet and sleep often go hand-in-hand. If you're going to snack before going to bed, make sure to eat foods rich in magnesium or lean protein. Studies show magnesium may play a role in helping us snooze through the night. Munchies high in protein usually contain tryptophan, an amino acid that increases serotonin levels that aid in sleep, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

3. Smell some lavender.
It's true: A sniff of the calm scent may help you snooze. Research suggests that the aroma helps promote relaxation and sleep by decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure.

4. Take a warm bath.
Wash off the day and help promote sleep all at the same time by prompting changes in your body temperature. "If you raise your temperature a degree or two with a bath, the steeper drop at bedtime is more likely to put you in a deep sleep," Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., associate professor at New York University School of Medicine, told Health.com.

5. Ban your phone.
This is probably one of the biggest bedtime no-nos. Not only are our devices tempting to look at if we wake up in the middle of the night, the light emitted from the screens can actually ruin sleep. Research shows the blue glow of technology can disrupt the production of melatonin. Charge those phones outside of the bedroom.

6. Write it out, then toss it out.
Anxiety keeping you awake? Transform it into something tangible. Research shows that writing worries down and then physically throwing them away can help clear our minds of negative thoughts.

7. Get out of bed.
Lying awake in bed isn't doing you any favors -- in fact, you may start subconsciously associating your bed with not sleeping, according to Steve Orma, a clinical psychologist and author of Stop Worrying and Go to Sleep: How to Put Insomnia to Bed for Good. If you haven't drifted off after 20 to 30 minutes, get up and go to another room.

8. Read a book.
Disconnect from technology and connect to the pages of a book, Orma previously told HuffPost Healthy Living. Bonus points if you turn it into a nightly routine. It sends your mind a sign that it's time to unwind.

9. Sleep in a cold room.
The ideal temperature for sleeping is approximately 60 to 68 degrees, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Go ahead, open that window.

10. Ditch the pajamas.
While we're on proper temperature, let's chat about the clothes that keep you warm. One way to reach that optimal body temperature is to shed some layers -- including the ones on your body. In fact, there's research that even supports this idea. Bare may really be better!

11. ...Or wear ACTUAL pajamas.
If you're like most people, usually a big shirt and some yoga pants will do for bedtime attire. But perhaps the gym clothes are best left for the gym: "Far too many of us have given up on the distinction between what you wear during the day and what you wear to bed," HuffPost president and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington wrote in a 2010 blog post. "Slipping on the PJs is a signal to your body: time to shut down!"

12. Do some calming yoga poses.
Undo the stress of the day by stretching out. Yoga helps you calm your mind as well as your body. Try one of these moves for increased relaxation.

13. Eliminate distracting noise.
There's nothing worse than car horns and loud wind preventing you from drifting off or waking you up from a sound snooze. Experts recommend a white noise machine or ear plugs to help create a quieter, sleep time ambiance.

14. Try progressive muscle relaxation.
If straight-up meditation isn't your thing, give this calming exercise a try. Gently clench your muscles for several seconds then slowly relax. Start with your toes and work your way up.

15. Sweat it out before bed.
Exercise is magical for a healthy body and mind. According to the National Sleep Foundation's 2013 Sleep in America poll, those who are physically active report getting better sleep.

16. Drink tea.
There's something soothing about a warm cup of tea before bed. Swap your nighttime beverage for some "sleepy time" tea, which contains compounds that help aid in sleep.

17. Quit smoking.
Kicking that habit to the curb may also help you have a sounder night's sleep. According to one 2008 study, cigarette smokers were four times more likely than nonsmokers to report feeling tired after a night's sleep. Smokers also experienced lighter sleep overall.

18. Read these relaxing words.
Calm. Cozy. Rest. Relax. Do you feel tired yet? A 2013 study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that reading particular sleep-related words will not only make your eyes more tired, but may even help you sleep longer.

19. Avoid caffeine.
Sorry, coffee lovers, but you might want to keep that habit reserved for the morning (or maybe the early afternoon). The effects of caffeine can last up to six hours, according to a study conducted by Brown University.

20. Don't try to sleep.
It sounds completely paradoxical, but sometimes the best way to fall asleep is to simply not try to sleep. One small 2003 study found that when insomniacs tried to force themselves to stay awake, they were more likely to drift off.

21. Reserve the bed for sleep and sex only.
Your bed should be a haven for sleep. When our bedrooms double as entertainment rooms, second closets or offices, our brains stop associating them with rest, making it harder to drift off. De-clutter the distractions.

22. Turn off the TV.
Sorry, "House of Cards" bingers -- you may want to save your excessive consumption for the daylight hours. Studies show that stimulation from screens may interrupt our ability to snooze. A general rule of thumb is to totally unplug at least an hour before bed so your mind has time to unwind.

23. Nix the nightcap.
A glass of wine may make you feel sleepy and, thus, ready for bed -- but sadly, that's all an illusion. Research shows that consuming alcohol before bed can disrupt rapid eye movement or REM sleep later on in the night. Try to eliminate all the adult beverages at least three hours before bedtime.

24. Keep Fido out of the bed.
We adore our pets as much as the next dog or cat lover, but unfortunately letting them cuddle with you overnight could be resulting in sleep loss. Sleep experts recommend keeping Fluffy and Fido out of the bed in order to get a proper night's rest (but admittedly, we know that's easier said than done).

25. Disconnect from your inbox.
Approximately 80 percent of young New Yorkers work from bed, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2012. As mentioned above, that screen time can seriously wreak havoc on sleeping patterns. Not only that, people have an alarming tendency to scroll through phones when they first wake up. However, experts suggest that breaking that habit can be beneficial for having a brighter morning.

26. Try some breathing techniques.
Sure, we do it every second of every day, but are we doing it optimally? Taking proper breaths can calm our systems and prep the body for sleep. Try some of these techniques when you hit the pillow.

27. Go to the bathroom.
Because there's nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night because of a full bladder.

28. Revamp your sleeping position.
If you're a stomach sleeper, you may be doing more damage to your body than it's worth. Check out this guide to the best sleeping positions for your health and consider adjusting accordingly.

29. Have sex.
Yep, it could help you fall asleep! The activity boosts oxytocin (AKA the "warm and fuzzy" hormone) and reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body, thus putting you in a more relaxed state.

30. Put on socks.
Once again, proper body temperature comes into play. One study found that covering those tootsies may help with blood flow, leading to a more optimal temperature for sleep.

31. Conjure up a relaxing scene.
Research shows it's a lot more effective than counting sheep, which actually engages the brain and keeps us awake. Drifting off to dreams of the tropics? Don't mind if we do.

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