It’s estimated that at least 70 million Americans struggle with some sort of sleep difficulty. According to The Better Sleep Council nearly half of all Americans say they don’t get enough sleep. There are a variety of problems people can suffer from including having difficulty falling asleep to waking up repeatedly throughout the night. The following are 10 ways to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Seek Professional Assistance
If you have tried every other option and still aren’t getting enough sleep, it may be time to seek medical intervention. A doctor may prescribe prescription strength sleep medication. A few of the more well-known sleep aids include Ambien, Lunesta, and Restoril. Each of these medicines can help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Sometimes other types of professional help are needed when it comes to understanding problems with sleep. The science of neurology and sleep disorders has become an extensive field of study. Some individuals may benefit from professional sleep disorder treatment. Conditions such as sleep apnea may be keeping you from sleeping properly. Health insurance may even help pay for you to be diagnosed at a sleep lab.
Stick to a Schedule
Sometimes a sleep problem can be eliminated simply by getting on a regular sleep schedule and sticking to it. Being consistent will help your body’s wake-sleep cycle stay in tune. Maintaining a schedule doesn’t just mean Monday through Friday either. To improve your sleep you have to stick to a routine seven days a week. It’s recommended that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Adults over the age of 65 may need slightly less. If you tend to be a morning person you will want to get into the habit of going to bed each evening as early as nine. If you are more of a night owl going to bed much later may work for you. Ultimately how much sleep each person needs and what time of the night he or she should get it will be based on individual needs. If you are sleepy during the day or sleeping extra on weekends, you probably need more sleep each night.
Create a Comfortable Environment
Bright colors in the bedroom may have an impact on your ability to fall asleep easily. It’s important to decorate a bedroom with what are considered cool colors. These include blues and greens. It’s recommended to keep the bedroom as dark as possible when it’s time to sleep. This means all TVs, computers, and cell phones are turned off and out of sight when it’s time to go to bed. It may be difficult for some people to set the phone out of sight, but having it nearby can add unnecessary stress. It may also help to cover the clock in the bedroom. Looking at it throughout the night and seeing how many hours are left to sleep can cause extra worry and agitation. Keeping the bedroom on the cool side can make it easier to sleep. While the best temperature for the home during the day is considered to be 72 degrees, keeping the bedroom several degrees cooler at night may help improve sleep.
Natural Sleep Medicines
There are a variety of over-the-counter natural sleep remedies that are normally not habit forming. Valerian is an herbal remedy that can be purchased in most herbal and health stores. It’s considered a natural sedative and can be drank as a tea. Chamomile, which is not usually considered as strong as Valerian, is a natural sedative that can help you relax. Chamomile also can be drank as a tea and is a good muscle relaxer. Melatonin can help induce sleep and can be taken in supplement form. It can also be found naturally in some of the foods we eat. Cherries are considered a good source of melatonin.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
If you enjoy coffee or soft drinks make sure to limit your intake to the morning or early afternoon. Too much caffeine in your body can definitely disrupt sleep. While alcohol can calm us, drinking too much can negatively affect our sleep. There are several different foods that can help you to sleep better. Fish, especially salmon and tuna, can help increase your vitamin B6. This particular vitamin can increase your melatonin, which is a sleep inducing hormone. Other foods that can help induce sleep include Jasmine rice, yogurt, bananas, and turkey. It’s also a good idea not to eat anything at least a few hours before going to bed. Eating right before trying to go to sleep can cause acid reflux, which can definitely keep you up. Try to avoid any liquids, even water, a few hours before sleeping. This will help limit trips to the bathroom after you have already gotten comfortable in bed.
Stay Active During the Day
Some people may simply not be active enough during the day to promote healthy sleep at night. While we don’t want to push ourselves to the point of exhaustion, being physically busy and active throughout the day will obviously make a person tired. It’s important not to confuse being mentally active with physical activity. While mental stimulation is also healthy, being overstressed mentally can keep a person up at night instead of promoting sleep. Exercising on a regular basis is not only good for your overall health but will help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper during the night. It’s important to remember, however, not to exercise too close to bedtime or you may be over stimulated when trying to sleep.
It might seem smart to get any extra sleep you can if you’re not getting enough during the night, but this can actually make the problem worse. The first few days that you give up nap time will be rough and it will be harder to make it through the day. It’s also important to resist the urge to drink extra caffeine to make it through without a nap. But by skipping this daily ritual your body should be extra tired by bedtime. If going without a nap is too difficult, at least try to cut back on the amount of time spent napping. Try to take a short nap that’s less than 30 minutes and take it in the early or mid afternoon.
Mentally Wind Down
Try to have all your thoughts from the day organized before crawling into bed. Some people may want to go over things that happened during the day before going to bed for the night. If you are one of these people, rehash the day before actually getting into bed. This will help your mind to associate your bed with relaxation and sleeping, not with stressful situations that happened throughout the day. Release all those stressful thoughts and worries before trying to sleep. If you have trouble completely emptying your mind, make a list of positive things to focus on before turning out the lights. A long, soothing bath before bed may also help you to unwind and relax.
Check for Other Health Conditions
There may be underlying health issues that are affecting your ability to sleep well. Depression and menopause are two conditions that can negatively impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Some research has stated that 90 percent of people with depression have experienced sleep problems. During menopause progesterone starts to level off. Since this hormone helps promote sleep, women in this phase of life may struggle with falling and staying sleep. Women should check with their doctor regarding natural or other types of medication that may help with decreasing amounts of progesterone. There are other health issues that can potentially disrupt sleep as well. A few include diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and eating disorders. Breast augmentation may even affect an individual’s ability to sleep properly. Sleep problems may occur more often right after the procedure has been done because of discomfort.
Invest in Quality Bedding
Mattresses and pillows can affect our quality of sleep. Some people sleep well on a very soft mattress while others need one that is firm. This is an individual preference but can possibly influence sleep more than people realize. A quality pillow can also make a difference when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. The type of sleeper you are will determine what kind of pillow will probably work best for you. If you are a back sleeper a thinner pillow is needed so your head is not thrust too far forward. A firm pillow works best if you sleep on your side. A stomach sleeper needs the thinnest pillow of all. You may need a pillow under your stomach, however, to help avoid lower back pain.