Top Tips for Bad Sleepers

Top Tips for Bad Sleepers

Insomnia affects 1 in 4 Americans and costs the U.S. economy around $63 billion annually in lost productivity. Even worse, lack of sleep increases risk for serious health problems like depression, asthma, diabetes and heart attack.

If sleeplessness is giving you fits, relief could be a simple matter of changing your habits.

Here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation for getting those recommended seven hours:

1. Give your body clock a little help.

The master clock in your brain operates on a 24-hour cycle. It controls biological processes like hunger, body temperature and sleep. These are called circadian rhythms, and they have significant bearing on your quality of life.

Consistent sleep times and wake times help regulate your body clock. If you go to bed at the same time every night, you’ll soon be tired when you’re supposed to be and refreshed when the alarm goes off.

Light plays a key role in circadian rhythms as well. Get plenty of natural light in the morning, and avoid bright lights in the evening.

2. Leave time for winding down.

Loading the dishwasher, folding laundry and packing kids’ lunches are hardly sleep-inducing activities. Snacking, smoking, and drinking caffeine or alcohol late at night are bad ideas as well. If you use electronic devices right before bed, kick that habit too. The type of light they emit stimulates brain activity.

Get chores done early in the evening. Thirty minutes to an hour before bedtime, turn off the TV. Sign off of social media.

Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Dim the lights. You might try reading, keeping a journal, praying or listening to soft music. The results of at least one study suggest that practicing mindfulness improves sleep.

3. Create a better sleep environment.

Your bedroom should be reserved for sleep or romance. TVs and computers have no place there. Even clutter and overly busy wallpaper or textiles can distract from sleep.

Mattresses have a life span of around 10 years before declining support interferes with sleep. Some pillows have allergens that keep people up at night. Replace anything that keeps you from getting comfortable.

Keep your bedroom cool overnight. Somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees is ideal.

If outdoor lighting is a problem, consider getting a sleep mask or blackout curtains. Before you kick your snoring bedmate to the couch or file for divorce, try wax or soft silicone earplugs designed specifically for sleeping.

A white noise machine, humidifier or whirring fan may soothe you to sleep.

4. Get plenty of exercise.

Scientists aren’t sure how physical exercise and sleep are related, but they do know that moderate aerobic activity aids deep sleep. Exercise decompresses your mind to help you transition to sleep. Some experts promise that 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day enhances sleep almost immediately.

On the other hand, exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which elevate mood and boost brain activity. For that reason, some people find that exercising in the evening keeps them awake. Others can exercise at any time of day and still sleep well.

5. Try a natural sleep remedy.

Some folks swear by certain supplements like melatonin, magnesium, ginkgo biloba or lavender. Be sure to ask your doctor before you try one. Some supplements react with prescription medications.

Use prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids only as a last resort and only under a doctor’s supervision. Some are highly habit forming.

6. Switch to a weighted blanket.

Weighted blankets are constructed with evenly distributed glass beads or plastic pellets inside. They’re designed to provide the same gentle, comforting pressure that you get from a massage or a warm hug.

The scientific name for this soothing force is deep touch pressure. The benefits of weighted blankets include increased serotonin and oxytocin levels to relieve stress and produce a calming effect. That’s why tightly swaddled infants stop crying and fall right to sleep.

Weighted blankets have been used for years to soothe autistic children. They seem to alleviate symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and restless leg syndrome as well.

For sleepers, the weight discourages movement through the night. The warm-hug sensation reduces anxiety and invites deep sleep.

The blankets come in various weights. See manufacturers’ recommendations for your particular body weight. Many brands now feature cooling technology for hot sleepers.

Finally, take sleeping issues seriously. If you struggle several nights a week for four weeks or more, it’s time to see a doctor. This is especially true if sleeplessness brings on depression or interferes with your ability to function in the daytime.

About the author

Lisa

Hey there, I'm Lisa, founder and editor in chief here at Recreation Space. We found fitness through recreational activities. And we want to share it with you. We believe in empowering people with knowledge to make smarter, healthier choices in their lives.

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