6 Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
You know the feeling. It's the middle of the night, you're wide awake, scrolling on your phone, thinking about your to-do list for the next day, and you simply cannot fall asleep.
You're not alone. One in three adults in the U.S. report they don't get a full night's sleep. That’s a big deal. We spend one-third of our lives sleeping. It's one of the most productive activities we can do for our brains.
Sleeping helps us be healthier, more creative, and is beneficial for our emotional wellbeing. Not sleeping enough is linked to many health issues, from high blood pressure to depression, and the list goes on.
But here’s the good news: there are many things within your control that can improve your sleep habits. Below we’ve outlined six tips to help you say goodbye to the tossing and turning and get a good night's sleep
1) Cut back on stimulants
While coffee and tea can give you a little extra energy, too much caffeine can harm our ability to fall and stay asleep. The effects of caffeine can vary by person but can last up to three and seven hours and take over 24 hours to leave your body. If you have trouble sleeping at night, that afternoon coffee break may be to blame for those restless nights.
2) Rethink the nightcap
It is often misunderstood that alcohol helps you fall asleep and 20% of American adults admit to having a drink around bedtime to get some shut-eye. While that glass of wine may help you fall asleep faster, alcohol can leave you tossing and turning all night.
In sleep expert Matthew Walker's Why We Sleep, Walker explains alcohol blocks the brain from entering REM sleep (the most critical sleep cycle), often leaving us fatigued the next day. While your eyes might be shut, you aren’t getting that high-quality deep sleep.
3) Cut back on the late-night Netflix binge
It's never been harder to put that phone down and turn off the TV. Over 90% of people in the U.S. report they use their phone or watch the latest episodes of their favorite show right before bedtime. Screen time at night delays your body's internal clock and REM sleep due to blue light that is emitted by phones, tablets, and TVs. The more devices you look at in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Not ready to say goodbye to Instagram or that show you’re binging before you go to sleep? Try using blue light blocking glasses or install a blue light blocking app on your phone or tablet.
4) Regularity is king
Do you wake up at the same time on Saturday as you did during the week? While not sleeping in on the weekend might sound like a drag, it's actually good for you. Walker said if he could give one piece of advice to help you sleep better, it would be to maintain regularity. Even if you had a bad night's sleep, going to bed and waking up at the same time is the key to getting a good night's rest.
5) Create a nightly ritual
What relaxes you at night? It could be a warm bath or shower. Or maybe it's meditation?? Or practicing yoga. Is your room a comfortable temperature? In Why We Sleep, Walker says 68 degrees is the optimal room temperature because your body’s core temperature needs to drop about two or three degrees to initiate good sleep. Create the environment you need to sleep and make a nightly ritual of it.
6) Get real medical help with your Friday health plan
A chronic lack of sleep can have a dramatic effect on your quality of life and your general health. In addition to causing symptoms like lethargy, irritability, and anxiety, conditions like insomnia have been associated with a higher risk of developing chronic diseases.
What we’ve outlined here are simple and easy tips that could help improve your quality of sleep, but you should always consult your doctor. Been getting consistently bad sleep? Use one of your three free doctor visits with your primary care provider and get evaluated. Your doctor can assess your history and even make a referral to an in-network sleep specialist if necessary.
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