Being unable to sleep or getting poor quality of sleep is incredibly frustrating. Often, we get so fed up that we give up and watch TV, then deal with sleep deprivation. This tactic, however, may not be the answer. One study actually suggests that chronic sleep loss is linked to issues such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular issues, and even anxiety, depression, and increased alcohol usage.
For those suffering from insomnia, this issue can quickly get out of hand. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 30 percent of adults experience symptoms of insomnia, 10 percent have these symptoms bad enough to affect their days, and less than 10 percent have chronic insomnia.
Let’s get real about it: even if we’re not suffering from diagnosable insomnia, most of us could use more sleep. Check out these five tips proven to help you sleep better at night.
Create the ideal place to sleep
Are you tossing and turning at night? Are you waking up feeling sluggish instead of refreshed? Are you experiencing unexplained aches and pains throughout the day? Then it’s possible that it may be time to revamp your bedroom. For the aforementioned issues above, the best idea could be to invest in a memory foam mattress that better supports your body as you sleep. This will prevent these problems and most likely leave you so cozy you find sleep way more attainable.
Tip: a couple of other things to consider are temperature control (sleeping with it too warm has been linked to poor sleep) and keeping the room clean and cozy (less stressors right before bed).
Pay attention to light exposure
It has been suggested that our brains react to light in such a way that it tells us when to sleep and when not to sleep. Therefore, it has been suggested that we should strive to get some sun during the day to tell our bodies when it is daytime and then we should kick screen time before bedtime. For example, one study suggested that exposure to blue light (the light screens emit) messes up the way our bodies produce the sleep chemical melatonin. Most sources suggest completely shutting down devices at least two hours before you plan to go to sleep.
Consider your diet
Little things like eating a lighter dinner, cutting out caffeine past a certain hour in your day, and paying attention to your alcohol intake can really impact a healthy night’s sleep. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, we should be avoiding meals for at least 2 hours before going to sleep and we should be very cautious with things like caffeine, alcohol, and even nicotine. They explain that the effects of caffeine and nicotine can take hours to wear off and that alcohol can disrupt sleep at night (even though it may make you feel sleepy initially).
Be active (but probably not too close to bedtime)
Regular exercise has been linked to not only better-quality sleep, but it has also been linked to helping people fall asleep more quickly. Although, most doctors warn that exercising too close to bedtime can have adverse effects for some. For example, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the endorphins being produced when we exercise mixed with the fact that our core body temperature is elevated when we exercise has the opposite effect for some people when exercising within two hours or so of trying to sleep. For some, the extra heat and endorphins keep them awake.
Develop a routine
According to the Mayo Clinic, sticking to a “sleep schedule” helps us train our body’s “sleep-awake cycle.” They recommend setting aside eight hours of sleep every night, going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time every day to achieve this cycle. They also note to not let the difference vary more than an hour on the weekends.
Not only is a sleep schedule important, but many people recommend a “wind down” routine before bed to relax and get into the right headspace for sleep. Things like eliminating screens, dimming the lights, and doing something that really helps us relax and de-stress before trying to sleep can be key to avoiding insomnia and training our bodies to know it’s time for sleep. Top suggestion for unwinding: taking a soothing bath.