Sleep is essential to good health. If we don’t get enough of it, we risk serious health and mental problems. But most people don’t sleep better at night as they require.
According to a 2005 survey by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), during the preceding year, 75 percent of adults had at least one symptom of a sleep problem, and 54 percent experienced at least one symptom of insomnia.
They also found that Americans sleep 6.9 hours on average every day. Sleep experts believe most people need 7.5 to 8 hours sleep to function at their best.
Americans also spend an estimated $2 billion on sleep medication every year.
Insufficient amount of sleep is a serious problem. One 2004 study found that women who slept less than five hours on average every night had a significantly higher death rate than those who slept seven hours.
One other study found that people who slept less than five hours for three straight days had problems such as headaches, stomach discomfort, cold, and sore joints.
Long term sleep debt causes problems such as obesity, heart problems, diabetes, and shorter life spans.
Sleep deprivation can affect every aspect of your day-to-day living, such as your mood, work performance, mental alertness, and energy level.
Benefits Of Sleep
Sleep is awesome. It has many benefits such as –
- Enhance your memory performance, alertness, creative problem-solving skills. These skills are most associated with intelligence.
- Boost your athletic performance. When you get a good night’s sleep, you feel vigorous throughout the day.
- Make you resilient to stress.
- Trigger the release of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH plays an extremely important role in muscle and cellular regeneration.
- Significantly improve your overall health.
Getting enough sleep puts you in a better position to succeed in life.
15 Proven Ways To Sleep Better At Night
Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle
1. Maintain A Healthy Diet
Maintain a low-fat, high-fiber diet that’s rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It will keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight down lowering your risk for cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and other health problems associated with poorer sleep.
You don’t need to starve yourself. Just be conscious of what and how much you are eating.
2. Avoid Food That Gives You Heartburn
Heartburn is a common problem. It becomes worse when you are lying down. It can impede sleep, and wake you up during night.
You want your stomach’s digestive work wrapped up before you go to bed. So don’t eat too much, and avoid foods that can give you indigestion. Also, eat several hours before you go to bed. If you continue to have heartburn, use extra pillows to prevent the reflux of acidic stomach contents.
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is extremely important to healthy living. It improves fitness and prevents illness. It also improves sleep. Research suggests that people who exercise regularly: fall asleep faster, attain a higher percentage of deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.
You don’t have to run a marathon to get exercise’s benefits. You can get the advantages by exercising twenty to thirty minutes three or four times per week. Walking, jogging, swimming,bicycling, and weight lifting all accomplish this. Find the activity that you enjoy most and do it regularly.
You may exercise in the morning to help you wake up. But don’t exercise too close to bedtime. It can make it harder to fall asleep. To eliminate the risk, exercise at least two hours before bedtime.
4. Don’t Drink Too Much
We all know negative long-term health effects of alcohol abuse. It also has immediate deleterious effects on sleep.
Alcohol helps you fall asleep quicker. But it reduces the amount of deep sleep you get. It also increases the likelihood of waking up during the later half of the night.
If you use drink to fall asleep, you will feel worn out in the morning. So don’t consume more than one or two drinks a day. Also, finish drinking at least three hours before bedtime.
5. Stop Smoking
Nicotine raises blood pressure, increases the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It also interferes with sleep. People who stop smoking, fall asleep quickly. They also wake less during the night. If you smoke, find a programme that will help you quit.
6. Limit Caffeine
Caffeine lengthens the time it takes to fall asleep. It also reduces the amount of deep sleep you get.
Caffeine takes a long time to clear out of your system. So don’t drink more than two or three cups of coffee, tea, or caffeinated soda a day. Finish drinking at least five hours before bedtime.
If you still have trouble falling asleep, avoid drinking more than one cup, and do it at least eight or nine hours before bedtime.
Maintain Good Sleep Habits
7. Develop A Pre-Sleep Routine
Set aside twenty to thirty minutes to resolve any mundane matters that might otherwise be on your mind if left undone when you go to bed. These may include replying to email, unwashed dishes and so on. Then try to relax by reading a book, or listening to music. You can also try meditating to reduce stress.
If you dwell on personal problems while on the bed, write your concerns down on a page of paper. Keep the page on the side and tell yourself you will work on them tomorrow.
A consistent routine can act as a cue to your body. So identify objects that help you relax, and order them in a way that will make your eyes get really heavy.
8. Stick To A Consistent Sleep Schedule
A Regular sleep schedule conditions the body to expect specific sleep and wake-up time. So set up a sleep schedule and stick to it seven days a week.
If you must deviate from the schedule on weekends, try to limit the change in wake-up time to a maximum of an hour. If you wake up too late, you won’t feel sleepy later in the day. Then it will start a cycle that will mess up your whole rhythm.
In addition, try to do other activities – such as eating, and exercising – at consistent times. If you have dinner different time every day, you are
sending your body conflicting messages about when it should expect sleep to begin.
9. Reserve The Bed For Sleep And Intimacy Only
Associate your bed with sleep as much as possible. If you do this, the feel of your bed will send a message subconsciously to your brain that you are ready for sleep. For this – reserve the bed for only sleep and sex.
Bed is very comfortable. But resist the impulse to watch television, eat snacks, make phone calls etc. on the bed.
10. If You Can’t Fall Asleep Within 20 Minutes, Get Out Of Bed
If you have trouble falling asleep, don’t spend hours tossing and turning on the bed. If you can’t fall asleep within twenty minutes, get up and go to another room. Do something soothing – such as reading or drinking milk.
Don’t do any stimulating activities – such as cleaning, or playing computer games. When you start to feel sleepy, climb back to bed and go to sleep.
If you don’t fall asleep, continue to lie on the bed will stress you out, making it more difficult to fall asleep. You also don’t want your brain to associate the anxiety and frustration with your bed.
11. Avoid Frequent Naps
Nap is very helpful when you are sleep deprived. But if you routinely have trouble falling asleep at night, you want to confine sleep to one long segment.
Drive for sleep increases the longer you’ve been awake. If you nap in the evening, the potential number of consecutive hours awake before nighttime sleep reduces. This makes it hard for you to fall asleep.
So resist the urge to nap in the evening. In the long run, you’ll thank yourself.
Create The Optimal Sleep Environment
12. Keep Your Bedroom Quiet
Nothing is more annoying than noise when you are trying to sleep. Try a pair of earplugs to block out unwanted noise. Simple foam or silicone earplugs that you can buy for a few dollars works. No need to get fancy. You can also soundproof your room by decorating with heavy curtain and rugs.
Some people sleep better when there’s a steady “white noise” of an appliance to obscure outside noise. You can get “white noise” by simply turning on a fan. You can also buy a head side “white noise” maker that puts out soothing sound – such as the sound of falling rain, heartbeat and so on.
13. Make Your Bedroom Pitch Black
Light signals your brain that it’s time to wake up. The darker your room, the better it is for your sleep. To ensure that light doesn’t come through your window, use thick curtains, curtain liners, or blackout shades.
Even the most inconspicuous glow can disrupt your sleep. So check for light sources inside your room. Cover up every electronic device that produces any light. If you can’t cover up every light sources in your room, wear eye masks.
14 Keep Your Room Chilly
Cooler room temperature helps you fall asleep faster and contribute to deeper sleep. According to researchers, the optimal room temperature for a good night’s sleep is 60-67 degree Fahrenheit. So make sure air circulates freely in your room, dial the thermostat down, and turn on a fan.
60-67 degree Fahrenheit may not be ideal for you. The ideal temp is a matter of personal preference. The important thing is keeping your room on the chilly side.
15. Buy A Comfortable Mattress
You’ll spend one-third of your life sleeping. So it makes sense to put some effort into finding a comfortable mattress. Go to a store that lets you test mattresses before buying.
If you’ve had the same mattress for more than a decade, it’s worthwhile spending some time to buy a mattress that’s comforts, and design suits you.
Similarly buy comfortable pillows, blankets, and pajamas.
How Much Sleep Do I Need
Few people can get by on as little as five or six hours of sleep. But according to sleep specialists, most people need at least seven and a half hour of sleep to function at their best. Some people need as much as nine to ten hours of sleep.
You can figure out how much sleep you need just by listening to your body. If after six hours of sleep –
- You can get out of bed easily;
- are not sleepy during the daytime;
- don’t have problems concentrating; and,
- are generally in a good mood.
You don’t need to sleep more than six hours. If you feel like above only after eight hours of sleep, you need to sleep eight hours every day.
Anyone who has trouble sleeping should try these tips to sleep better. If you try this fifteen steps, you will see a significant improvement in your sleep. If these simple steps don’t improve your sleep, you should consult a physician or a sleep scientist. They can do many things to improve your sleep.
What question do you have about sleeping? What’s your favorite sleep hack? Let me know in the comment.