If you are tired throughout the day or feel like you don’t get enough quality sleep, you’re certainly not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 30% of adults get less than 6 hours of sleep per night, categorizing the epidemic as a major health risk. While recommended amounts of sleep vary depending on which expert you ask, the general consensus is that a normal adult requires anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to be fully rested. The benefits of reaching these thresholds include an improved immune system, increased metabolism, and better sex drive among a vast array of others. Utilizing these 7 safe and proven strategies is the best way to promote better sleep and achieve greater health.
- Create a Routine
One of the easiest ways to start sleeping better is through habitually training your body to sleep at a consistent time. If you’re constantly staying up until midnight, your mind and body will regulate itself to keep you awake until that hour, thinking that’s what you need. If you currently face such a dilemma, try waking up at 6 am for 3 or 4 straight days which will help promote an early bedtime. It may feel like tough love at first, but resetting your sleep schedule will be a great asset in the long-haul.
Not always easy to do for the busy, constantly sleep-deprived person, finding a way to exercise for 20 to 60 minutes per day promotes better circadian rhythms. The exercise does not need to be intense, but the more consistently you can get moving, the more consistently you can fall asleep. Note: avoid working out within two hours of when you plan on trying to sleep. Increased hormone levels from elevated heart rate can make it difficult to relax at night.
- Turn Off Screens
Blue light, otherwise known as the light that is emitted from electronic screens, is notorious for repressing melatonin release, the hormone responsible for sleep. Staring at your phone or tablet screen will not only make it more difficult to fall asleep but disrupt the quality of REM cycles throughout the night. Even setting your device to night mode won’t completely eliminate blue light emission which is why experts recommend setting aside all electronics at least 30 minutes for your intended bedtime.
- Kick on the AC
There’s nothing better than curling up under a warm blanket on a cold night. In fact, studies show that sleeping with air set to around 67 degrees or using a fan at night promote better sleep quality. This is also just good practice as nobody likes waking up drenched in sweat.
- Cut out the Booze
If you’re like the majority of people, you likely have used alcohol to help promote feelings of drowsiness in some manner before. While a glass or two of wine initially helps you fall asleep, it prevents natural sleep patterns and stops deep sleep from occurring. Therefore, even if you get 7 or more hours of sleep, you’ll still likely feel drowsy and worn down the next day.
- Stay Hydrated
The average adult is chronically dehydrated, whether they know it or not. Most people fail to get the commonly recommended 64oz of water per day. Lack of hydration can lead to a number of health problems, not the least of which is trouble falling asleep. Try drinking more water throughout the day and a glass before bed to promote higher sleep quality.
- Buy Melatonin
If all else fails, purchasing a bottle of melatonin pills is a highly effective method to help promote sleep. The dosages range from 3mg to 10mg and are available over the counter at most pharmacies or corner stores. While not ideal to use every night, taking a small dose when you’re having trouble falling asleep can help create more consistent, repeatable sleep patterns.