Sleep is one of the healthiest activities you can do for yourself everyday. However, countless Americans suffer from inadequate sleep, both in quantity and quality. This lack of quality sleep can affect your health in countless ways, and is considered a major challenge in public health. Intuitively, it has been linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial accidents, and occupational errors. This act of unintentionally falling asleep is a risk factor for countless hazardous outcomes. Indirectly, a lack of sleep can affect numerous chronic medical conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, depression, cancer, increased mortality and reduced quality of life. Everyone is searching for ways on how to sleep better! It’s no surprise that the shelves of the drug store that offer sleep aids continues to grow!
A Healthy Night’s Sleep
What do we really need when it comes to sleep? This is highly variable depending on our stage of life and our age, but it also seems to vary depending on the person. In the US, most of us don’t get the hours that we need, much less an ample amount of quality sleep. School-aged kids need at least 10 hours of sleep everyday, teens, not surprisingly, need 9-10 hours of sleep, and adults need 7-8 hours everyday. With a newborn and toddler at home, I don’t think I have gotten 7-8 hours of sleep in at least 8 months! (Perhaps there was a selfish motivation in writing this blog)!
Top Tips on How to Sleep Better
- Stay on a sleep schedule – Go to bed and rise around the same time each day, even on the weekends, holidays and days off. This rhythm will help you get to sleep and achieve quality sleep more days than not.
- Watch what you eat/drink – If you drink too much before bed, you know you will be making trips to the restroom. If you each too much before bed, you may be challenged with a good bit of discomfort. Also, consider your caffeine, nicotine or alcohol intake in the hours leading up to bedtime. All three can significantly affect your sleep hygiene.
- Create a bedtime ritual – Given that I have just helped my 8 month old develop some good sleep habits (he is now sleeping almost 7-8 hours straight overnight), I can appreciate the value of a bedtime ritual. And these rituals aren’t limited to the kiddos. You have to program your body to know when it is time for bed.
- Set the scene – Your bedroom is for sleeping, and for only sleeping. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Move the TV out of the bedroom, and turn off those mobile devices before you climb in bed. Those TV and device lights are incredibly stimulating and you may find it difficult to get to sleep. Finally, make sure the kids and pets are out of your bed – believe me, everyone will sleep better on their own!
- Limit daytime naps – It may feel great at the moment, but those daytime naps can sabotage your nighttime sleep. If you do nap, keep the nap short in duration (10-30 minutes), so that the nap is refreshing and resets your day.
- Exercise everyday – If you have a toddler, you know you need to wear out your kid to ensure a good night’s sleep. The same holds true for us as we get older. It has long been established that physical activity helps tire your body, assisting in quality sleep. But be careful when you exercise as a late night workout may wind you up too much to get to sleep.
- Limit and manage stress – Every once in a while, I find that I can’t turn off my brain before bed. I am constantly thinking about something that happened or will happen, and I end up staying awake entirely too late. It is critical to manage this stress through getting organized, setting priorities, and delegating tasks. If you work well and rely on others, you will definitely relieve some stress.
Are you suffering from insufficient sleep? What tricks and tips do you use on how to sleep better?