Get Some Good Rest
Tips From The Experts On How To Fall Asleep – And Stay Asleep
With how busy people generally are in our society today, the days can get to feeling quite long. As just about everyone knows, they become even longer when you’re exhausted from a lack of sleep. Nobody wants to muddle through work, housework, family obligations, and the rest of day-to-day life on just a few short hours of sleep per night.
And if you think the consequences are restricted to just you, think again. According to a 2016 study by RAND on Science Daily, Americans’ collective lack of sleep costs our economy around $411 billion per year. That same study showed that those who sleep for fewer than six hours per night have a 13% higher risk of death from any cause than people who get 7-9 hours of sleep.
So, are you ready to start working on better sleep habits? We sure are! Here are some of our favorite sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation.
Things You Can Do During The Day
Getting a good night’s sleep can often start during the daytime – when you first get up in the morning, in fact. Here are some of our favorite tried-and-true things to do during the day to help you fall asleep fast and stay asleep at night:
- Be exposed to bright light, especially in the morning. Natural sunlight helps your body regulate its circadian rhythms, which helps you get ready to sleep in the evening.
- Wake up at around the same time each day, even on the weekends and on your days off. We realize that some people work variable or difficult schedules and this isn’t always possible, but if you consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time, it’s much easier for your body to naturally develop a rhythm.
- Exercise! For the most part, it doesn’t really matter when during the day you do this as long as you don’t throw off your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Many people find that exercising within 1-2 hours before bed wakes them up, rather than calming them down. However, for some people, it can help them relax. Listen to your body’s cues to find what the best exercise routine is for you.
- Avoid napping, especially in the afternoon. If you’re having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night, and you take regular naps, this might be a very important step for you to take!
Things You Can Do In The Evening
No matter how hectic your day has been, we highly recommend finding some time in the evening (or before your bedtime if you work night shifts) to unwind, relax, and prepare your body and mind for rest. Following these guidelines can help ensure you get a good night’s sleep – something that everyone needs.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals in the evening. Alcohol and other drugs, like caffeine and the nicotine found in cigarettes, can majorly disrupt your natural sleep cycles. Heavy and spicy meals can also cause indigestion, which makes it difficult to get good rest. Most experts recommend avoiding these things starting 3 hours before bedtime.
- Relax and unwind right before bed – and not with your smartphone! Many devices emit blue light, which can trick your brain into thinking that it needs to stay awake. Not to mention, a late-night email from a boss or co-worker can rev your stress levels up again, making it difficult to fall asleep. Instead, try reading a book, taking a bath or shower, or doing something else quiet and peaceful that you enjoy in the hour before bed.
- Have a bedtime routine. Many parents use routines to get babies and young children to bed on time because it trains their bodies to wind down and become sleepy. Your adult body is no different! If you establish a relaxing bedtime routine, it can help signal to your brain that it’s time for bed – and that it should act accordingly.
- Get comfortable. We all know how hard it is to sleep when we’re too hot, too cold, or our sleeping surface is uncomfortable. Set the thermostat at a temperature that works for your body (most people sleep the best in temps between 60-67 degrees.) Don’t be afraid to invest in a good mattress, your favorite pillows, and bedding that you like. It also may help to have white noise in the background such as from a fan or other machine.
What If I Still Can’t Sleep?
For many people, sleep problems can be handled by making small lifestyle changes that make a big difference. However, it can take time to re-train your body to sleep well again, and in some cases, you may have an underlying condition that’s preventing you from getting the rest you need. Here are some tips on what to do if you still struggle to get the rest you need.
- Get up and go do something relaxing. If you’ve spent long nights lying awake in bed, you may have trained your body that the bed isn’t as much for sleep as it is for long, restless pondering. You can re-train your brain by getting out of bed and doing a relaxing activity, like reading, until you get tired. Then, give sleeping another try.
- Use the bed only for sleep and sex. While reading in bed, breakfast in bed, and more can feel awesome occasionally, over time they can cause it to lose its association with sleep. It becomes just another place to hang out – not a place that’s reserved for rest.
- Talk to your doctor about a Melatonin supplement. For many people, Melatonin has been proven to help them fall asleep, stay asleep, and get a better quality of sleep. This makes sense, since it’s essentially the hormone that your body uses to induce the sleepy state that prepares you for bed. However, it’s always important to talk to a medical professional before starting any new supplement, especially if you’re taking other medications.
Sleep is one of the ultimate pillars of health, along with diet and exercise. If you’re still struggling to sleep, or are waking up feeling as tired as you were before you went to sleep, you may have an underlying problem that needs professional attention. Please don’t put off getting help! Sleep disorders are common (especially sleep apnea) and they take lives, so take them seriously! It’s worth the time, money, and effort involved in getting help so that you can enjoy a good quality of life with your loved ones – for a long time to come.
Have a comment? We welcome your insights! If you have questions, feel free to reach out to our Cheyenne therapists at 307-631-5574.