Relaxation 101

Try these five easy tips to get your body and mind ready for sleep:

1. Have a light snack.

Turns out, Mom was right—a glass of warm milk before bed can help send you off to dreamland. That's because milk is rich in tryptophan, a sleep-inducing amino acid. Additional research indicates that pairing tryptophan with carbohydrates has added benefits—they help make the tryptophan more available to the brain. So to boost the effect, pair that glass of milk with carbs such as crackers, toast or cereal.

2. Don't try to force it.

The more you toss and turn and focus on trying to go to sleep, the harder it will actually be. Instead engage in a relaxing activity that will help calm you down, or even bore you to sleep. Try reading a book or meditating. Even imagining a dull speech or lecture might do the trick.

3. Nod off to Mozart.

Listening to soft music or nature sounds can help relax you and get you ready for sleep. Soft and soothing classical music is a good place to start, but you should experiment with what's right for you. Just make sure to program your music so it shuts off on its own.

4. Create a bedtime ritual.

Reading in a comfy chair, writing in a journal, taking a warm bath or shower or simply dimming the lights can be a relaxing ritual that signals to your body that it's time to slow down. Resist the temptation to check your e-mail or pay bills in bed—these activities will keep your brain buzzing.

5. Build the right sleep environment.

Your physical environment can play a huge role in the amount and quality of sleep you get each night. Edit your bedroom and remove anything that might produce sensory overload—too much light from bright lamps and sheer curtains or energizing music from the stereo. Use our interactive tool to design your ideal sleep sanctuary and gets tips for improving your sleep along the way.