Do you find yourself tossing and turning every night? Is it hard for you to fall asleep at night and then even harder to wake up in the morning? You are not alone. Studies show that ⅓ of Americans show at least one sign of insomnia, and at least 10% suffer from a chronic insomnia disorder. If you feel like your nights are restless, here are some tips and tricks to help you get a better night’s rest.
Put Away Electronics
The tempting little blue screen full of facebook notifications are actually keeping you up at night. The light emitted by most electronics can halt or slow the production of melatonin, even if you do put it on the night mode. You should set a strict curfew for your electronics, and put them away at least one hour before you climb into bed.
Limit Your Naps
Avoid taking long naps if you would like to sleep well at night. If you take long naps during the day (longer than 30 minutes) to try and make up for missed time, you will actually make it harder for you to sleep at night. However, short power naps can actually help you sleep better at night as long as you limit them to 10 or 15 minutes, and don’t nap after 4 pm. Take naps on couches and other places so that you aren’t tempted to sleep for too long.
Only Use Your Bed for Sleep and Intimacy
If you use your bed to surf the web, watch TV, work, etc., then you are ruining your sleep, and causing a condition called delayed circadian rhythm. Your bed will start to trigger alertness rather than sleep. Reserve your bed for sleeping and intimacy or a better night’s rest.
Keep a Bedtime Schedule
It is imperative that you create a consistent bedtime schedule for yourself. If you have an inconsistent sleep schedule (especially if you sleep in on weekends), you can experience symptoms of jet lag. The more inconsistent your schedule, the worse the symptoms will be. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time even on weekends and during vacations.
Set a Nighttime Routine
You should take ample time to prepare for bed every night. Create a consistent nighttime ritual that will help you sleep at night that includes brushing your teeth, dimming the lights, and maybe reading a book or doing a few gentle stretches. It may also be useful to associate something with sleeping, such as a specific pillow or a scent (lavender is a great bedtime smell) to help you relax at night.
Be Careful What You Drink
You should limit caffeine and alcohol right before you go to bed, as they can keep you up at night. The effects of caffeine and alcohol can cause sleep issues up to ten hours after drinking it. You should also avoid drinking a lot of water right before you go to bed, as it might cause you to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
Lower Your Lights
Light is a natural signal that tells your body when it is time to go to sleep or wake up. Low light tells your brain to make melatonin, while high levels of light causes your body to release cortisol. However, artificial light tells your body to produce the wrong hormones at night, keeping you up late and ruining your sleep. If you have an irregular schedule, it may be a good idea to get blackout shades, as suggested here to block out the light so that you can rest.
Go to Bed Earlier
Having an early bedtime is better for your health for many reasons. It can help reduce anxiety, irritability, and stress, make you more productive, help you sleep better at night, and help you stay healthy. Plan to give yourself at least 8 hours of sleep, and taking about 15 to 30 minutes to wake up, so go to bed 8.5 hours before you want to wake up.
Many people have a hard time sleeping because their mind goes a million miles a minute. If you are one of those people, it is important that you relax as part of your bedtime ritual. Quiet your mind by taking a “mental vacation,” drinking some tea, taking deep breaths, reading a book, listening to music, etc. Find something that works for you, and do it every night. Pretty soon your mind will take that as a cue to go to sleep, and you will start falling asleep faster each night.