In an ideal world, you would be falling asleep within minutes of hitting your pillow. Unfortunately, this is far from reality for thousands of people. A full 40 percent of people sleep less than eight hours every night, and even falling asleep is far from a simple process.
Between one-third and half of all adults in the United States suffer from insomnia, and research collected from 1905 to 2008 shows that children have lost an average of a minute of sleep per night each year during that time period. Good quality sleep is more rare today than ever before. All while research shows that your quality of sleep should be a priority.
Before I get to my sleep tips, I want to be clear that having the correct mattress for your condition and sleep style is extremely important. I often recommend specific mattresses for my patients, but if you are not a patient, Quality Sleep Mattress Store in Bellevue is my top choice for custom matching a mattress.
If you have eliminated your mattress as the source of poor quality of sleep, now you can read further as these are definitely secondary to a quality mattress.
So, what can you do to improve your sleep each night? These tips are the place to start.
#1. Control Artificial Light Exposure
One of the biggest factors for how well you sleep each night is the amount of light you are exposed to. We evolved to be extremely sensitive to even slight variations in light levels, ensuring that evening skies lead us to feel drowsy.
Today, however, an overabundance of artificial light is keeping us awake. Your phone, laptop screen, and TV all emit “blue light” which triggers your body into thinking that it’s daytime no matter what the clock says. In fact, looking at a cell phone screen late at night has been found to keep people up for hours longer than they would be otherwise.
To fall asleep faster, put all your electronics aside at least two hours before hitting your pillow to prevent your brain from getting stimulated. Also, many cell phones now have a “night mode” that essentially turns off the blue lights that come from your screen. I recommend 2 hours in this mode before sleep or ideally, no electronics at all.
#2. Don’t Stress About Sleep
STRESS about not falling asleep and you’ll, no doubt, NOT fall asleep. If you’re starting to feel anxious about the sleep you’re missing out on, it’s important to stop this mental pattern before it gets out of control.
Don’t let yourself dwell on how bad you’ll feel in the morning, and think instead about how much easier falling asleep will be the next night. Evidence shows that letting go of worry while falling asleep helps you fall asleep faster, just by removing your underlying anxiety.
#3. Practice Relaxation Techniques
The old methodology of ‘counting sheep’ might be more beneficial for your health than you think. Simple relaxation techniques can do a lot to focus your mind to help you fall asleep, so consider experimenting to find what works for you. Some people practice a twenty-minute yoga routine before bed, others practice meditation or read books in bed.
Often, the routine itself is just as crucial of a trigger that it’s time to wind down as what you do, so being consistent is key.
#4. Get Out of Bed When Necessary
If you really can’t sleep, there’s no point in lying in bed willing things to be different. Instead, get up, make a cup of tea, or spend time with a book in your living room. Don’t turn on your TV or use your smartphone though, as the artificial light will make you stay up longer.
In most cases, the change in routine (of laying sleepless) will help you forget your anxiety about still being awake, and you’ll fall asleep again quickly.
#5. Avoid Chemical Substances
Contrary to what you might think, alcohol makes sleeping more difficult. Cigarettes, caffeine, and spicy meals also disrupt sleep, so keep your food and drinks relatively bland in the hours before bedtime for the best results.
Falling asleep shouldn’t be a struggle. Experiment with these tips, and you’ll be getting better sleep in no time. Here is another blog on the very same topic that you may also consider.