Do you find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night? Then you could be in the market for some steps to guarantee a good night's sleep. Because, if we're being honest, everyone could benefit form better Zs. There's even science to back it up. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep or wakefulness disorders every year. The truth is, with how busy and fast-paced this world has become, sleeping can stop being a priority in lieu of other, seemingly more important things.
Even so, sleeping is important to your emotional and physical wellbeing. Lack of sleep can impact people quickly (such as falling asleep at the wheel and getting into a car accident) or chronically over time. Children who don't get enough sleep may have a hard time getting along with others, become depressed, and get lower grades in school. Teenagers, who require anywhere from 8 to 10 hours of sleep, are notorious for not getting enough sleep even though they're at a crucial stage of growth and development. Lack of sleep can lead to anxiety, depression, inability to make decisions, and weight gain. Even napping can be harmful to your health when not done correctly.
You may think your sleep routine is fine, but there might be something you're missing that can push your regular night's sleep into a great night of rest, allowing you to start your day right and keep going all afternoon.
1. Develop A Routine
Although this may sound like a no-brainer, Psych Central notes that having a routine before bedtime alerts your brain and your body to start preparing for sleep. Whether it's a nighttime beauty routine or reading a book for an hour, commit to making it your nightly habit. Additionally, make your actual bed time a routine — don't go to bed at 10 p.m. one night and 2 a.m. the next. Find a time that works for you and stick to it.
2. Get Some Exercise
One study from the National Sleep Foundation found that adults who get around 150 minutes of exercise a week sleep better and feel more alert in the day than those who don't. That being said, you shouldn't hop on the treadmill for an hour right before bed. CNN reports that it takes awhile for the adrenaline to wear off before bed, so you have to give your body some time to return to normal. If you really have to move your body late at night, try some yoga routines you can even do from the comfort of your bed
3. Unplug From Electronics
Your circadian rhythm is aligned by the sun — when it's light out, you're awake, and when it's dark, that's a sign it's time to sleep. Electronics, however, can mimic natural sunlight and keep us up far longer than we'd like to be. In fact, the National Sleep Foundaiton reports that children and teens who use electronics before bedtime have more daytime drowsiness and fewer hours of sleep. It's best to unplug at least an hour before your set bedtime and do something soothing, such as reading a book. Additionally, you can download an app for your computer and smartphones that reduces blue light emission and allows your body to prepare for sleep.
4. Take A Bath
A drop in your body temperature is a key signal to sleep, so taking a warm bath might sound counterintuitive. However, stepping out of the bath and into a cooler room artificially drops your temperature and tells your body it's time for sleep. Taking a bath an hour before bed can lead to a great night's rest. To pamper yourself even more, add a few drops of essential oils to relieve stress, soreness, and anxiety.
5. Keep A Nighttime Journal
Do you toss and turn about your anxieties all night? Keeping a journal might help relieve some of that. Instead of agonizing over what might happen or tasks that have to get done, Happier.com notes that writing everything down in a notebook will relieve some of the stress. Ask yourself, "Why am I worrying about this? Can I do anything about it now?" If you can't, it shouldn't be interfering with your sleep.
6. Dim The Lights
Health magazine recommends switching off the overhead light, as the harsh light from overhead lighting is a huge beacon that's telling your body to stay awake. If you need to some light to do a little pre-bed reading, use a small light on your nightstand.
7. Create A Good Sleep Environment
Believe it or not, there's actually a "perfect environment" for sleeping. At night, keep your room as dark as possible — this includes blinking lights from smoke detectors, charging electronics, and outside lights — or blocking out the light manually with a sleep mask. Outside noises can also be a bother, so invest in ear plugs or a noise machine to keep sounds outside the bedroom.
8. Make Your Bed A Sleep-Only Zone
Are you the type of person who watches Netflix in bed? Do you get work done curled up underneath several blankets? If you're guilty of this, move your things to a different room, as this makes your body think beds aren't for sleeping, according to the Huffington Post. Instead, create a "sleep haven" for yourself: grab some comfy pillows and blankets, candles, books, and prepare for a great night's rest.
9. Don't Hit The Snooze Button
Is that extra 10 minutes really going to do anything? It will, but not in a good way. Studies show that when you hit the snooze button, your cycle starts all over again, which means you'll be waking up at an even deeper part of your sleep. Just set your alarm clock to the true time you should wake up, and if you're tempted to snooze, put your alarm clock across the room, so you'll have to get up out of bed to turn it off.