15 Ways to Get More Sleep When You Don't Have More Time (PHOTOS)

Maressa Brown | Jan 11, 2015 Healthy Living

woman asleep with laptop open

Whether it's said jokingly or woefully, "I'll sleep when I'm dead" seems to be the mantra of far too many overtired, busy parents, workaholics, or just plain overscheduled folks. Unfortunately, it's hard to truly live if you aren't getting your fair share of ZZZs, and we all know how many benefits there are of sleep. But how do you sneak in quality rest when it feels like there's just not enough time?

getting better sleep

That's the Q we asked regular busy bees and wellness experts, and they revealed the tricks that help them get a good night's sleep.

Check them out below, then tell us: Which of these have worked for you, or do you do something different altogether?

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  • Schedule It


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    "My husband and I are picking at least one night during the week to go to sleep by 9 p.m. so we don't function like the Walking Dead anymore! We actually write it on our weekly calendar." -- Cynthia D., Westchester, NY

  • Power Down


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    "I like to turn off all the electronic devices about an hour before bed. No more phone, no more TV. It helps my brain settle down without all the distractions. I have a glass of water and read from a good book and I am able to sleep." -- Aneka S., Spokane, WA

  • Boost Melatonin


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    "Getting more and better sleep revolves around promoting as much melatonin release as possible before bedtime," explain Jonathan and Dena Birch, NDs at Purety Family Medical Clinic in Santa Barbara, CA. "The number one way to increase melatonin production is to decrease cortisol production [by] decreasing stressful activity, especially within two hours of bedtime."

    To do this, the Drs. Birch suggest "taking a 10-minute walk outside before bedtime." But if that isn't realistic for you until warmer weather rolls around, try an "extended-release" melatonin supplement 30 minutes before bedtime. "Start with 1 mg, and feel free to move up to 5 mg per night, if necessary," the Drs. advise.

  • Stick to a Routine


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    "I have three kids ages 6, 4, and 18 months. It's all about routine in our house. Bedtime, meals, naps, and wake-ups happen the same time daily. Not sleeping in keeps the routine flowing and the family functioning." -- Stephanie L., Battle Creek, Mi


  • Try a Cup of Tea


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    "I have a cup of calming tea every night while laying in bed -- chamomile, valerian, jasmine, etc." -- Niamh D., Derry, NH.

  • Practice Proper Sleep Hygiene


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    "Don't go to bed until you are ready to go to sleep," advises Krystal Richardson, ND, Naturopathic Family Medicine in Seattle, WA. "If you are used to doing other things (i.e. watching TV), it can be hard to get into the habit of the bed being just for sleeping. [But] if you find yourself laying in bed for 30 minutes to an hour, then get back out of bed."

    The habit of laying in bed waiting for sleep to come can be stressful, making it even harder to drift off, so Dr. Richardson recommends leaving the room to read a book for a bit, and then, "try again to go to bed a half an hour later or when you feel your eyelids drooping."

  • Replace Blue Light With Amber Light


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    Blue light emitted by our electronic devices is a no-no, but not all light works against getting much-needed rest. "Amber or red light exposure near bed time will help your body release more melatonin, [so you can] fall and stay asleep," says Kusha Karvandi, personal trainer and host of Exerscribe Radio. "There are various apps for your computer/phone that will project red light, or you could purchase a nightlight version."

  • Meditate


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    "I use a guided meditation app. It's fantastic. It puts you into a relaxed sleep and also has a wake feature to help wake you up at the end of the program. I couldn't live without it!" -- Hillaree R., Payson, AZ

  • Skip That Glass of Wine


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    "Alcohol makes you drowsy and may give you the impression that you are going to fall asleep and be headed towards a great and rejuvenating night of sleep," says psychiatrist Howard L. Forman, MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "Nothing could be further from the truth!"

    As alcohol enters your system, your brain waves are altered. "Worse, when your liver finally gets the alcohol out of your system, your brain tries to make up for normal brain activity that was missed, which leads to vivid, often frightening dreams," he explains. "What started as a seemingly great idea ends with a sweat-soaked bed and a night that was not invigorating."

  • Eat Right & Move More


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    "I have learned that if I am exercising regularly and eating right, then I sleep better overall. I have more energy during the day and end up sleeping through the night." -- Sarah W., Molalla, OR

  • Reflect on the Day


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    Barb Schmidt, international speaker and author of THE PRACTICE: Simple Tools for Managing Stress, Finding Inner Peace and Uncovering Happiness recommends doing a bit of reflection on the day to put your mind into rest mode.

    "Acknowledge that while we cannot change what has happened earlier in the day, we will probably have another chance to try again in a similar situation," she advises. "Take time to do some inspirational reading -- a couple of minutes is enough -- and close your eyes, focusing on your breath. Ending your day with a sense of peace, strength, and connectedness gives us a firm foundation for a good night's rest."

  • Limit Caffeine


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    "I limit caffeine after 3 p.m. Old-fashioned, but it works!" -- Autumn S., Tallahassee, FL

  • Up Your Magnesium


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    "Magnesium is commonly low, and it gets lower with alcohol consumption, stress, eating processed food, and consuming caffeine," explains certified integrative nutrition and fitness coach Christine Khuri. "Magnesium is also responsible for fighting the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol will disrupt your sleep patterns and contributes to belly fat, weight gain, and anxiety. All of which we don't want!"

    You can get more magneisum by bumping up your intake of foods like green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. And you can discuss a supplement with your doctor.

  • Weight Train


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    Another reason to make sure your workout routine isn't too cardio-centric: It could help you get more sleep!

    "Weight training increases HGH (Human Growth Hormone)," explains Khuri. "HGH is responsible for keeping us young, retaining our muscle mass (very important for women), keeping skin elastic and youthful, as well as fighting aging and wrinkles. When we don't have enough, we have irregular sleep patterns and horrible recovery time."

  • Reach for Sleep-Friendly Foods


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    "Stay away from spicy, heavy, or hard-to-digest food, such as popcorn or lentils," recommends expert sleep consultant Karen Schwarzbach with PivotalSleep.com. "Seek out more sleep-inducing foods like bananas or almond milk. A combination of a complex carbohydrate and protein [like a banana and nut butter] can actually induce sleep."


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