Us humans spend up to a third of our lives sleeping, which means sleep is a huge indicator of our overall health. Though most people know that getting a full night of restorative shut-eye is important to feeling good, not everyone gets the recommended eight hours of slumber per night.
For some, it’s an issue with falling asleep, either because there are too many thoughts buzzing around their head or because they can’t get comfortable in bed. For others, it can be an issue of staying asleep, with persistent insomnia, anxiety, or nightmares responsible for keeping the Zzz’s at bay.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 50% of Americans report experiencing sleep loss throughout the week. And while this fight against restlessness can feel at times like an uphill battle, there are plenty of ways to combat the worst of it.
For some of our favorite tricks, keep on reading below!
The following tips can be helpful for people who are having trouble falling asleep.
- Try to give yourself at least thirty minutes to wind down before you go to bed. A relaxing activity such as reading can be good activity. It can also help to begin dimming the lights around the house about an hour before you plan to go to bed.
- Try some breathing or relaxation exercises as they can help to calm the mind.
- It can be harder to fall asleep with light from the screens of electronic devices such as phones and laptops. Disconnecting from these things in the bedroom as they can keep the brain alert.
- If you go to bed and can’t fall asleep after approximately twenty minutes, try getting up and going to another room. Find a relaxing activity such as reading or listening to music quietly. Relaxing activities should be done in another room as lying on your mattress awake can cause an unhealthy link between wakefulness and your sleep environment. The bedroom should conjure sleepy feelings and thoughts only.
- Even if you have a difficult time falling asleep, try to wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Sticking to a schedule will help your body’s clock to eventually adjust and make it easier to fall asleep at night.
Getting Back to Sleep
- If you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep you should avoid caffeine in the afternoon and especially the evening. Alcohol should be avoided as well as both alcohol and caffeine can cause you to wake up during the night.
- Keep your room as dark and quiet as possible. This can be achieved with darkening curtains or blinds that block out streetlights and a noise machine or fan to block out noise.
- Practice some simple breathing exercises to relax yourself so you are able to go back to sleep.
- Just as you would if you are having trouble falling asleep, after twenty minutes, get up and go to another space to do a relaxing activity.
Waking Up Too Early
- If you are not getting enough sleep because you wake up too early, try practicing some simple breathing exercises. Also make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark.
Getting a Better Night’s Sleep
- Try keeping a sleep diary as it can help you understand how your sleep habits affect you. Track your sleep every day for at least two weeks by writing down what time you go to bed, how long you sleep, how long it takes to fall asleep, and how often you wake up at night. You should also record other factors such as any food eaten near bedtime, or any exercise.
- Exercising can improve the quality and length of your sleep. Exercise should not take place within four hours of bedtime as it can keep your body temperature elevated for up to four hours which can inhibit sleep.
- Try to avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon and evening. This includes not only coffee but tea and soda as well. Caffeine is a stimulant and it can stay in your system for up to eight hours, making it difficult to fall asleep.
It is important for overall health that we get a good sleep each night. Getting enough sleep results in increased productivity and energy, as well as improved health, better moods, and more.
- How to Sleep Better: Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
- What to do When You Can’t Sleep
- Sleep Problems: Trouble Falling or Staying Asleep
- Helping Older Kids Fall Asleep
- Sleep and Health: Sleeping Well to Live Well
- Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep
- Using the 20 Minute Method When You Have Trouble Falling Asleep
- Trouble Sleeping? Experts Say Skip Antihistamines
- Getting Enough Sleep
- Too Early to Get up, Too Late to Get Back to Sleep