Too many people want quick easy fixes for their health without putting any effort into it. Everyone wants a pill to immediately deal with what they have when many times they can treat themselves. Whether it’s overeating, drinking too much, drugs, or poor sleep habits, many times the answer lies within.
More and more studies are showing that people have terrible sleep habits. You need to train yourself to sleep better. DON’T just rely on medications.
In 1900 the Avg. American slept about 8.2 hours; now we sleep about 6.4. Electricity, the internet, satellite tv, tablets, phones and texts that we think will kill us if we don’t answer. Change your habits and in no time you will sleep better!
Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to sleep through the night, but there are many things that you can do! Read on and learn some techniques to sleep well.
These tips can help you attain proper “Sleep Hygiene”, or sleep habits. (You may need to follow only a few of these.)
**Today’s lifestyles can contribute to the inability of being able to sleep consistently. Regular exercise can also help you relax. This is especially if you have more of a “type A” personality, tend to get anxious when things don’t go well, have a lot of stress in your life, or if you just worry a lot. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and do what works for you; everyone’s different. Here are some suggestions;
• Sleep only when sleepy
This reduces the time you are awake in bed. If you sleep enough and are still tired, you may have a sleeping disorder.
• If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something boring in another room until you feel sleepy. Do not eat or drink in bed if you have insomnia!
Sit quietly in the dark or read something very boring in another room. Don’t expose yourself to bright light while you are up. The light gives cues to your brain that it is time to wake up. If it takes you longer than 20 minutes to go to sleep, you also may be going to bed too early. Some people stay in bed for 10-12 hours a night but only sleep 6-7 hours; they should go to sleep later. Remember also, the longer you sleep, the deeper you sleep.
Having poor sleep habits while taking medications to sleep may not fix the problem. Improving sleep hygiene should be the first thing you do. (If you travel a lot or have problems with jet lag, remember to stay in the sun as much as possible and sleep at your regular hours.)
• Don’t take naps unless absolutely necessary
This will ensure you are tired at bedtime. If you just can’t make it through the day without a nap, make sure it is less than one hour, and before 3 pm, or your sleep at night may be affected. Even a short nap though can affect your sleep at night. Each person is different.
• Get up and go to bed near an hour the same time every day and night respectively
Even on weekends! When your sleep cycle has a regular rhythm, you will feel and sleep better. Staggering your sleep times will make sleeping consistently difficult. Inconsistent sleep times will create poor sleep habits and you will feel sleepy or tired.
• Refrain from exercise at least 2-3 hours before bedtime
Regular exercise is recommended to help you sleep well, but the timing of the workout is important. Exercising in the morning or early afternoon will not interfere with sleep.
• Develop sleep rituals
It is important to give your body cues that it is time to slow down and sleep. Listen to relaxing music, read something soothing for 15 minutes, have a cup of caffeine-free tea, or do light relaxation exercises, or stretching. Do whatever works for you. (Make sure to do this outside the bedroom).
• STAY OFF OF THE INTERNET, tablets and cell phones WHEN YOU SHOULD BE SLEEPING!!
This is self-explanatory; you may end up on the computer for hours before going to sleep.
• Only use your bed for 2 things
Refrain from using your bed to watch TV, eat/drink, pay bills, do work, or read. This is so that when you go to bed your body knows it is time to sleep. Sex and sleep are obviously the only exception.
• Stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at least 3-4 hours before bed.
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Coffee, tea, cola, and some prescription and non-prescription drugs contain caffeine. Cigarettes and some drugs contain nicotine. Alcohol may seem to help you sleep in the beginning as it slows brain activity, but you will end up having fragmented sleep. If you snore or have sleep apnea, alcohol will also make it worse.
• If needed, Have a light snack before bed.
If you eat early and your stomach is too empty, that can interfere with sleep. However, if you eat a heavy meal before bedtime, that can interfere as well. Dairy products and turkey contain tryptophan, which may act as a natural sleep inducer. Tryptophan is probably why a warm glass of milk is sometimes recommended. If you have reflux problems, try to sleep on your left side, and don’t eat near bed time.
• You can take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime
Some people enjoy taking a hot bath near bedtime. This will raise your body temperature, but it is the drop in body temperature afterwards that may leave you feeling sleepy.
• Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet, cool, and comfortable
A very warm room may feel comfortable, but it will make sleeping difficult because it will increase your body temperature, and make sleeping more difficult. A cooler room along with enough blankets to stay warm is recommended. If light in the early morning bothers you, get a blackout shade or wear a slumber mask. If noise bothers you, wear earplugs or get a “white noise” machine.
• Use sunlight to set your biological clock
Soon after you get up in the morning, make sure that you create a lighted environment. This will tell your brain that it’s time to get up. (i.e. open the curtains, electric lights, sunlight by going outside, etc…)
**In ending, to sleep well, create a good cool environment, and have consistent quality sleep habits. A cool room is vital to good sleep. We all have different personalities; and some are more anxious or “Type-A” than others; but don’t make sleep such a stressful event that it makes sleeping even more difficult. People that sleep well don’t think much about it because their quality sleep habits have become second nature to them.
They don’t really stress about it. If you’re a worrier or more of a “type-A” person and think about things in bed or go over and over about your thoughts, take these suggestions to heart to improve your sleep.
Some people have had difficulty sleeping and poor sleep habits for years, so this may take time. You are the key to creating proper sleep hygiene. REMEMBER, EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT SO DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU AND YOUR SLEEP WILL IMPROVE SOONER THAN YOU THINK! If you sleep enough but are tired, you may also have a sleeping disorder.
Good sleep habits lead to good sleep!!