Did you know that over 50 million people in the United States have problems with their sleep health? That means one in seven Americans suffer from any one of a number of sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea. Chances are, you or one of your loved ones has some trouble getting a good night’s rest.
Many people do not realize how many problems, health or otherwise, stem from the science of sleep. Would you like to find out how you can get better sleep?
Read on to find out ways that you can achieve quality sleep, and improve many other elements of your life as well:
1. Make a Sleep Schedule and Stick to It
The importance of a sleep schedule cannot be overstated. Having a consistent schedule for when you go to bed at night and when you wake up in the morning is crucial, so you can train your body when to fall asleep and when to be alert. Once you find your ideal sleep schedule, you should immediately start feeling more rested when you wake up in the morning.
One of the best ways to make your body adjust to a sleep schedule is to do it in increments. For example, if you go to bed at midnight but want to eventually fall asleep a few hours earlier, you can go to bed a few minutes earlier each night. Then, you can set your alarm for the same amount of time earlier every morning.
Although it may be tempting to sleep in on the weekends, many sleep specialists recommend that you still have a relatively similar schedule so that you do not cause your body clock to reset. If you want to sleep in, try to only do so for a few minutes past your regular wake up time. That way, you can still enjoy yourself without completely changing your routine.
Another reason why having a sleep schedule is vital is the sleep cycles your body goes through every night. The two most different stages in the sleep cycle are deep sleep vs REM sleep. You should ensure you’re getting equal amounts of these so you wake to feel well-rested. The average sleep cycle lasts about an hour and a half, so try timing your sleep and wake up times to coincide with these.
2. Wind Down Without Electronics
Electronics and smart devices have made our lives easier, but unfortunately, they have had drastic effects on our sleep health. The addiction to electronics often leads to chronic sleep deprivation, as users tend to spend time in bed with smartphones and tablets rather than books or other analog methods.
One reason the screens keep people awake at night is due to blue light, a phenomenon so powerful that your brain is deceived into thinking that it is daylight. Therefore, your body does not produce the calming chemicals that it needs to begin the process of settling in for the night. This is a common reason why a paperback can make you sleepy but you can stay awake for hours looking at your cell phone.
A simple change you can make to your bedtime routine is to set a time to turn off all electronics. If you still struggle with picking up your phone, tablet, or computer, you may need to use a digital or analog alarm clock separate from your smart device, and put your devices in a different room entirely. You can also put your phone into do not disturb mode to mute notifications.
If you have responsibilities before going to sleep where you absolutely must use your phone, then consider buying blue light glasses or putting a blue light blocker on your device. Modern smartphones often have a sleep mode or night mode, which will change the color of your screen to filter out blue light. Reducing blue light exposure overall will promote better sleep.
3. Try Calming Scents and Sprays
If you find yourself feeling anxious or jittery when you try to settle down for the night, there are a variety of natural methods that can help aid your sleep. One of the most common and pleasant ones is using the power of scent to help your body prepare to go to bed at night.
Homeopathic remedies can have a powerful effect on sleep. One of the most popular scents known for its calming properties is lavender. You can purchase a lavender room spray so that you feel more mellow when you are getting ready for bed. For an extra boost, you can even get a spray that goes directly on your pillow.
If you find yourself needing further help at night, you can combine the scents with other natural elements like sleep supplements. Often, melatonin combined with the powers of calming scents helps to create the perfect sleep environment. Some of the room and pillow sprays even contain melatonin that you can inhale through your nose.
For people who may not like the smell of lavender, another great option is ylang-ylang. It has been shown to reduce the time it takes your brain to process thoughts, which can allow your mind to relax before you try to go to bed at night. If you own an essential oil diffuser, you can easily mix your favorite scents and create a custom blend that your brain will associate with rest and relaxation.
4. Wash Out Background Noise
Often times noise can be the culprit that gets in the way of getting the rest that you need. When you have children or live with roommates, sometimes going to sleep in silence can seem all but impossible. Luckily, many options exist to help mitigate this issue.
A popular solution for noise interfering with your sleep is a white noise machine, which can produce a static sound that will override other more distracting noises. If you do not want to spend the money on a machine, you can simply download a smartphone app that produces white, pink, or even brown noise.
For some, the static sound of white noise can still be a distraction when trying to unwind for the night. If this is the case for you, you can try to use peaceful tracks of other scenarios, such as waves crashing on a beach, a babbling brook, or simple sounds of nature. On many streaming services, you can even put together playlists of the sounds that you find to be most effective for inducing sleep.
For a more interactive experience, you can even download a meditation application for your smart device. Listening to a guided meditation to help relax your body has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to fall into a deep and peaceful sleep. If you simply want to drift off, a calming story told in a soothing voice can also be just as effective.
5. Limit Caffeine Consumption
Caffeine is a staple for the vast majority of the population, but it can have detrimental effects on your sleep health. Although it can give you a much-needed boost in the morning, consuming too much caffeine or even drinking it late in the day can make falling and staying asleep much more difficult. Studies have shown that too much caffeine leads to more tiredness during the day and less sleep at night.
Giving up caffeine may be too frustrating, but even cutting back on the amount you consume every day will have a net positive benefit on your quality of sleep. For instance, if you drink three cups of coffee a day, try going down to two, or even replacing the last cup with a decaf blend. This small difference could have a drastic impact on your sleep health.
A popular method for being able to enjoy caffeine but also good sleep is simply stopping caffeine consumption earlier in the day. Many doctors recommend that you should not have caffeinated beverages past the early afternoon. Even a little bit of caffeine can stay in your system for hours, and interfere with your body’s process of winding down to go to bed.
If you are serious about limiting caffeine, then you will have to find a solution that works best for your body’s needs. Some people find that quitting altogether leads to many other health improvements, while others want to have caffeine but change their habits so that it does not interfere so much with their sleep.
Good Sleep Health Does Not Have to Be Difficult
Although many people do not realize it, sleep health is one of the most important aspects of an overall healthy lifestyle. Implementing even some of these changes can drastically improve your sleep quality. Often, it takes a specific formula or combination for you to achieve your perfect sleep scenario.
Sleep is only one factor when you are making changes to your lifestyle. Would you like to learn more about sleep habits and other ways to become more healthy? Take a look at the Health section of our blog for more information.