At least 50 million Americans suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. The problem is so widespread that the Centers for Disease Control has called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic.
Life can get so busy that we often try to cram more hours into the day by reducing the time we need to rest. However, this isn’t good for your overall health. Studies have shown that people who sleep less are more prone to certain illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Feeling well is so important and getting a good night’s rest is the first step to accomplishing this. If you find yourself suffering from fatigue, restlessness or compromised health because you’re not resting, here are five ways to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
Follow a Schedule
Establishing a routine is beneficial for almost everything in life, especially sleep. If you go to bed at 2 a.m. one night and 11 p.m. the next, your body’s sleep-wake cycle may be out of its rhythm. Consistency is key when it comes to sleep, so make an effort to go to bed at the same time every single weekday and weekend. You also should create a bedtime ritual to help your body realize when it’s time to get some rest. Reading a book and lying down in a cool, dark or dim room are good ways to create a sleep routine. Doing these things can help your body establish a natural rhythm where you fall asleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day.
Keep an Eye on Your Stress Level
Worry and anxiety about work, family and other personal commitments can make it more difficult for you to relax. Stress also can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep. It can cause you to get up in the middle of the night or have intermittent sleep where you may rest for a few hours and then be awake for several more.
To combat stress, it helps to be organized and to delegate any responsibilities you can to other people who will assist you. Light or moderate exercise, such as walking, also can be a good stress reliever. Enjoying the company of friends and family or participating in an activity you enjoy also can reduce your stress level. While you may be thinking that you have no time to do these things, reshuffling your priority list every once in awhile to accommodate stress-relieving activities will be good for your overall health and your sleep quality.
Put Away the Electronics
Using a cell phone, computer or watching television before bed can make it more challenging to get a good night’s rest. About 95 percent of Americans use electronics during the week before bed, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
These habits can interrupt your sleep because they cause your brain to feel wide awake. When your brain is this stimulated it’s very difficult to rest, so it’s better to keep your cell phone or computer in a different room and turn off the TV and dim the lights when you’re ready for bed.
Watch What You Eat Before Bedtime
You are what you eat. That age-old saying is especially true in regards to your sleep. People who consume caffeine or alcohol right before bedtime often have trouble sleeping. This is because alcohol can ruin your REM sleep, which is the restorative part of the sleep cycle. Spicy and acidic foods also can impact your sleep because they may cause heartburn that leads to discomfort. If you aren’t comfortable, there’s no way you can sleep peacefully. Instead, eat foods for dinner that aren’t likely to irritate your stomach and cause heartburn or gas. Also, drink enough water so that your body can get rid of any toxins that may worsen digestive issues or ultimately impact your sleep.
Have a Quiet, Comfortable Sleeping Space
It’s impossible to get a good night’s rest when there’s loud music playing and noise coming from the TV. To rest well, you need to sleep in near or complete silence.
Soothing, quiet music can help you go to sleep, but you also can set your music to go off at certain time after you fall asleep so that your rest isn’t interrupted. Also, make sure that the surfaces you sleep on are comfortable. An old lumpy mattress or pillow aren’t great for resting, so replace them with items that aid your sleep rather than hinder it.
Sleeping well is one of the pillars of good health. Not resting can impact your work, relationships and immune system. If you have trouble falling asleep, the tips above can help. However, you also should talk to your doctor to ensure something more serious isn’t causing your sleep issues. Your doctor can determine what may be happening and come up with the best solution so that you get as close to eight hours of sleep a night as humanly possible.