We all know a good night’s sleep is key to our well-being, both on a day-to-day basis and over the long term. This is the time when our bodies and our minds recharge. The CDC says adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night, but many of us fall short of that mark.
So why is it so hard to get enough sleep? Some people may suffer from sleep disorders that need the attention of a medical professional, but a lot of people can improve their slumber and fight insomnia by taking a few simple steps and making some small adjustments to their routines.
Reclaim your dream time with these five tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
1. Create (and follow) a sleep schedule
It’s up to you to set the rules for your body clock. Set bedtime and wake-up times that make sense for your work and life schedule and then stick to them. Even on weekends, try to stay close to those times rather than staying up until the wee hours and sleeping in until noon. Your body will thank you on Monday morning.
Your sleep schedule can include more than just your bedtime and wake-up times. Some people swear by afternoon naps, but you might try cutting them out of your daily routine if you find you’re having trouble falling asleep at night.
2. Beware of blue light
Many of us are attached to our gadgets at all hours, but gluing your eyes to your TV, computer, or smartphone before bed can have a negative impact on your sleep quality. Melatonin-suppressing blue light, in particular, is seen as a culprit in causing poor sleep. Our bodies produce the hormone melatonin to help regulate our sleep.
One way to deal with the blue-light issue is to simply stick to a cut-off time when you put your gadgets away, such as an hour or two before bedtime. If you absolutely can’t take your eyes off the screen, then at least be sure to use a device that reduces your exposure to blue light. Apple’s Night Shift feature for iOS is a good example of this. You can schedule it to automatically shift the display to the warmer end of the color spectrum.
3. Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary
It can be tempting to turn your bedroom into a multi-activity zone where you watch TV, work on your computer, or play with your pets. But let’s focus on what’s really important: your sleep quality.
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Set yourself up for success by removing the TV, making sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow, and installing light-blocking curtains so outside lights don’t keep you up. Avoid bright night lights or clocks that glow too vividly on your nightstand. Schedule quiet hours on your phone if you keep it near your bed.
If your cat likes to dance on your head at 4 a.m., then you might need to train your feline friend to spend the evening outside your room. Dogs can sleep on their own beds near yours if you can’t bear to banish them from the bedroom.
4. Don’t fret if you’re having trouble sleeping
It’s bedtime and you’re still wide awake, or your eyes suddenly fly open in the middle of the night. Don’t waste time staring at the clock and worrying yourself about the sleep you’re missing.
If you can’t fall back to sleep within 15 or so minutes, then reach for a book, listen to relaxing music, or try out some soothing meditative exercises. It’s also OK to get up out of bed to do these things. When you start to feel sleepy, go on back to bed.
5. Watch your intake
You can keep coffee and other caffeinated beverages in your morning routine, but leave them out of your evenings. Be especially vigilant about sneaky sources of caffeine, like some sodas. Cigarettes can also be an issue since nicotine is a stimulant. Alcohol may make you feel drowsy at first, but it can come back to interrupt your sleep later in the night.
It’s not just about what you drink. What you eat can have an impact, too. Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime and opt for a light snack if you must nibble on something.
If you try all these tips and you’re still having trouble getting decent sleep, then it may be time to talk to your doctor about the next steps you can take to improve your slumber.
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Can tech help you sleep better?
You don’t have to pass on sleep-tracking gadgets just because you don’t want to have something strapped to you. There are non-wearable options out there.