Sleep disruptions and insomnia can take a toll on your health. Several studies have associated sleep deprivation with an increased risk of car accidents, poor job performance, relationship problems, injuries, memory problems, and mood disorders. If you are not getting good quality sleep each night, perhaps you need some advice on getting better sleep.
Some of the dangers of sleep disorders include increased risk for the following:
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- Depression and other psychiatric problems
This is why getting better sleep is more than just feeling refreshed. It is important for your overall health. If you suffer from fatigue or have trouble falling or staying asleep, one of the most important things you can do for your health and to prevent disease and depression is to follows steps for getting better sleep every night.
8 Tips for Getting Better Sleep
1. Set a sleep schedule and bedtime ritual.
Adhering to a sleep schedule is one of the toughest things to do, but it really helps you to consistently get a better night’s sleep. If you make an effort to go to bed and wake up at the same time, whether weekday or weekend, you body will get used to that schedule and reward you with being able to fall asleep and wake up more easily.
Any parent who has put a baby or child to bed knows that a consistent bedtime ritual makes the process go so much more smoothly, but yet we don’t do that for ourselves. Following a relaxing bedtime routine gets your body ready for sleep. Find relaxing activities to quiet your mind and calm you down before bed.
2. Check your mattress.
Are you waking up with neck or back pain or numbness? Do you find yourself tossing and turning or waking up tired? It’s time to check your mattress. If you can’t remember when you bought it, or if it has been at least eight years then it’s time to consider going mattress shopping. Over eight years you may spend about 25,000 hours on that mattress, so it is worth it for your mental and physical health to invest in a good mattress. If you see your mattress sagging or looking lumpy, you might be amazed at how much better you would feel in the morning if you simply replaced it.
3. Adjust the thermostat.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleeping temperature is 65°F. If you are too hot to too cold you are not going to sleep well.
4. Remove the devices.
Make your bedroom a device-free zone. Playing games on your phone, or scrolling through work emails or paying bills online will keep you from falling asleep for several reasons. The type of blue spectrum light that is emitted by phones, tablets and computers can prevent your body from secreting melatonin and signal your body to stay awake. Plus, thinking about work and money, getting your adrenaline pumping while playing games will also keep you from falling asleep. Make your bedroom a haven and escape from your world by keeping work and your devices out of it.
Instead try reading either a paper book or a front-lit, e-ink e-reader (such as a Nook or Kindle) that does not emit the kind of light that disrupts sleep. But be sure the e-reader is not actually a tablet.
5. Dim the lights.
Our body’s sleep/wake cycles are affected by light exposure. Dim the lights in the evening, and if you read in bed, use a book light rather than a lamp. When you wake up, open the blinds and turn on lights to let your body know it is morning and make it easier to wake up.
6. Meditate before bed.
There are several styles of meditation that help clear the mind and promote sleep. Guided meditation can be successful, especially for beginners who don’t know how to get started. You listen to an audio track of a person reading meditation instructions. (You can find them for free online or purchase them.) Set up the device and adjust the volume. Use a device that will quietly go into a sleep mode when done. Get into bed and listen to the guided meditation. Other helpful sleep-inducing meditation methods include progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness.
7. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine in the evening.
While it seems that a glass of wine can relax you, drinking before bed can disrupt your sleep several hours into the night. You might fall asleep initially but then wake up tossing and turning because alcohol can disrupt REM sleep, which helps with learning and memory formation. Caffeine is a stimulant, so having a soda with dinner or even coffee or tea in the later afternoon can keep you awake at night. A better evening beverage is warm mild because calcium may help you sleep better.
8. Seek treatment for medical issues.
Sometimes medical issues affect your sleep. If you suffer from sleep apnea, an enlarged prostate, restless leg syndrome or other medical conditions that wake you up at night, talk to your doctor. Chances are if you are gasping for breath, waking up several times a night to urinate, or kicking in bed you are affecting your partner’s sleep as well. Seeking treatment can improve your health, sleep and your relationship.
Following these tips for getting to sleep should help you get more shut-eye and better-quality sleep. Over time, you should be able to fall asleep easier and wake up feeling more refreshed. If you are still feeling exhausted, you should talk to your physician about other possible causes for your sleep problems.