Sleeping is one of the most important things we do. Sleepiness decreases work and school productivity and can be dangerous when working with heavy machinery or while driving. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 35% of adults in the US average less than 7 hours of sleep per night, and almost 70% of high school students average less than 8 hours of sleep every night. This is concerning since poor sleep raises your chance of alcohol and tobacco usage, obesity, heart problems, respiratory issues such as asthma, depression, arthritis, diabetes, and even cancer. Clearly, sleep is important, but it’s also pretty easy to change your habits to get better sleep–here are 10 easy things you can do to help you sleep well every night.
Tip #1: Set a Strict Schedule.
If you’ve ever slept in all weekend and then struggled to get up on Monday morning, you know just how hard it is to fight your wake/sleep schedule, or circadian rhythm. Your body quickly gets used to a set schedule of waking and sleeping that is tied to your activity patterns and the transitions between day and night. One of the most important tips for helping you sleep well is to set a regular schedule so your body will know when you’ll be sleeping.
Tip #2: Create Your Own Personal Bedtime Routine.
One of the most crucial parts of your day is the last hour before you sleep. You should try to do the same things every evening, such as taking a warm shower, brushing your teeth, and getting into pajamas, which will cue your body that you’re about to go to sleep.
Tip #3: Turn off the TV, Phone or Computer.
As you get ready for bed, try to avoid spending time looking into lights like your TV, phone, or computer. Though it may be tempting to watch videos as you relax in bed, this kind of light keeps your brain alert, so opt for entertainment like podcasts or audio meditations that don’t require a lit screen.
Tip #4: Go Somewhere Else If You Can’t Sleep.
If you really can’t go to sleep just yet, or if you wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep, go ahead and move to another room for work or entertainment. This will help remind your brain that bedrooms are for sleep, not for alert activities.
Tip #5: Make Your Bedroom as Dark as Possible.
At night in your bedroom, use blackout curtains and cover lights on electronics in the room to keep it as dark as possible for the best sleep. Conversely, during the daytime, stay in brightly lit rooms and get lots of sunlight to help align your circadian rhythm with the passage of time in nature.
Tip #6: Watch What You Eat.
Eating large meals, drinking alcohol or caffeine, and smoking cigarettes hurts your sleep quality. Whether you’re awake with jitters or indigestion, you won’t sleep as well as you would if you just drank water and ate a small snack in the evening.
Tip #7: Exercise Regularly.
By regularly exercising, you burn off excess energy and keep your mind and body active without the use of stimulants.
Tip #8: Adjust Your Thermostat (Or Set a Thermostat Schedule).
Most people sleep well when the temperature of the room is in the mid 60s. Who hasn’t woken up in the middle of the night too hot or too cold? If you have a thermostat with a scheduling device built in, set the schedule to lower or raise the temperature at different time intervals during the night while you are sleeping.
Tip #9: Block Out All Noise or Use White Noise.
Whether it’s a dog barking or a partner snoring, noises tend to distract from a good night’s sleep. Use white noise from an app or fan to dull exterior noise, and wear earplugs if necessary. Also, if you have your phone at your bedside, make sure to silence it so you aren’t up all night with Twitter notifications.
Tip #10: Make Your Mattress and Pillow Comfortable.
Try to change your mattress out at least once every 10 years, and if you can’t afford a new one, you can make a firm mattress softer with a pillow-top insert or soft mattress firmer with boards under the bed. Find a comfortable pillow that fits your size, and spend a little extra on soft and breathable sheets and blankets.
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