Did you know that an estimated 40 million people have sleep disorders? The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that almost 30 percent of U.S. adults get 6 hours of sleep or less every night. And even if you’re diligent about getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night that’s necessary for most adults, it may not be high-quality sleep; the kind that really allows your body to recover and restore itself. So, if you find that you’re not getting enough sleep, or not sleeping well when you do, here are 5 tips that can help you make a change and start getting the sleep you so desperately need.
Keep Caffeine to a Minimum
While you’re probably aware that coffee, tea, and most sodas contain significant amounts of caffeine, there are some foods that also contain caffeine you may not be so aware of; such as chocolate, matcha green tea, coffee, and chocolate-flavored ice cream and yogurt, along with some granola bars and cereals. Even if you don’t think you’re very sensitive to caffeine, you don’t get major bursts of energy or have trouble falling asleep, it may still be contributing on a smaller level to disrupt your sleep patterns in some other way. Read food labels and be sure you’re not unknowingly overdoing it on caffeine, especially later in the day.
Set a Sleep Schedule
Our bodies like habit. If your current sleep schedule is hectic, going to bed and waking up at different times and trying to catch up on sleep on the weekends, your body doesn’t quite know when your downtime is supposed to start and when you should be waking up each day. It’s constantly being forced to do something different. That’s why sometimes it takes you quite a while to settle down when you’re ready for bed and you find yourself struggling to get up in the mornings. If you train your body to wind down at the same time and in the same way every evening, and then wake up at the same time and with the same routines every morning, it will get used to the schedule and help improve your quality of sleep.
Take Time Before Bed to Clear Your Mind
Life is busy and you may very well have trouble settling your mind enough to fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow. You may be running through all the things you didn’t get to, trying to figure out everything that needs to be done the next day and generally letting your mind run away from you. Take control back and intentionally clear your mind so you can rest well. Keep a notepad and pen next to your bed to write down any thoughts or to-do’s that will keep you up. Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. If you do start replaying parts of your day, make sure your thoughts are settled on the good things, those that you can really express gratitude for. All of this helps to clear your brain of all those troubling thoughts and let your body and mind rest well.
Take a Hot Shower or Bath
Taking a warm shower or bath before bed can erase all that muscle tension that’s built up throughout the day. The temperature contrast from a hot bath to cozying up in bed has been shown to improve the quality of sleep and shorten the time it takes to fall asleep as well.
Create Optimal Sleeping Conditions in Your Bedroom
If you prefer a cool room when you sleep, add some extra fans or turn on the A/C and get comfortable. If you’re staying warm all night, you’re not going to sleep comfortably. If you prefer a warmer environment, crank up the heat and add a few extra blankets. Or if you’re the type to have the room freezing while covered in a few thick blankets, but with one foot sticking out so you’re not too hot…go for it! Whatever it is that makes you comfy and will let you sleep better, do it. If you have a significant other you have to compromise with, so be it. Each of you needs to determine what they need to get comfortable and meet somewhere in the middle so you can both rest easy.
If you continue to have issues sleeping, reach out to your physician to make sure you don’t have a sleeping disorder or something else going on. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t functioning well. It’s time to kick your sleepless nights to the curb.