With nearly a third of Americans suffering from sleep deprivation, it’s likely that you occasionally or regularly deal with the struggle of not getting enough sleep. The reasons for sleep deprivation range from physical and mental issues that can cause difficulty sleeping to a lack of attention to sleep hygiene and creating an environment conducive to sleep. No matter what is keeping you up at night, there are self-help remedies worth looking into. In some cases, medical help is necessary. Read on to find out how you can get a better night’s sleep, starting tonight.
Get Up at the Same Time Every Day
If you’re sleeping in on the weekends, taking an afternoon nap, or staying up way too late a couple days per week, you could be making it more difficult to sleep on weeknights. One reason for this is that your circadian rhythm can get off-course if you are not going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time every day. Getting too much sleep in the morning can impact your sleep when you try to go to bed at the end of the day. To get a better night’s sleep, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. You’ll get used to it, and you might even start waking up at the correct time without having to depend on an alarm clock.
Make Your Bedroom More Conducive to Sleeping
Here are three ways to make your bedroom more conducive to sleeping:
1. Use your bedroom for sleeping only – Ideally, you should use your bedroom only for sleep. Watching television, using your computer, reading emails, texting, and other activities in your bedroom can disrupt your sleep. You might start to associate your bedroom with stress, whether it’s brought on by a scary movie, frustrating work emails, or texts from your overbearing mother-in-law.
2. Remove clutter – In addition, remove extra clutter from your bedroom. Think about whether some of your items can be stored elsewhere in the house; you might even find that you don’t need all of the items that you have. This not only makes your bedroom feel more calm but it also removes places for dust, which can make your nose stuffy and disrupt your sleep, to hang out.
3. Control the temperature – Finally, make sure that you’re not too hot or too cold in your bed. If your covers are too light or too heavy, switch them for something more seasonally appropriate. Layers are good; this way, you can remove a blanket without getting too cold. The optimal room temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67 degrees. Turn down your heat in the winter. If it’s too hot in the warmer months, turn on the air conditioning, open a window, or turn on a fan.
Watch What You Are Doing Right Before Bed
Certain activities, if done right before bed, can make it difficult for you to fall asleep and might also wake you up later. Exercise is a good way to get better sleep, but not if it’s done too close to bedtime. Try to get your workout in before dinner so you have several hours of low activity before bed. You should also avoid eating within a couple hours of bedtime. Your digestion slows in the late evening, so this can set you up for gas, discomfort, and constipation as morning approaches. In addition, it can cause heartburn if you lay down too soon after eating. Drinking too much before bed will have you up for a midnight potty break.
Try not to do anything stressful before bed. The adage, “never go to bed angry,” is good for relationships and for sleeping. Refrain from checking work emails too close to bedtime. Turning off the television, laptop and phone an hour before bed can help you get a better night’s sleep because the type of artificial light emitted by electronics, often called blue light, can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime and disrupt the production of melatonin, a hormone that tells your body when it’s time to sleep.
Get Any Health Issues Addressed
Sometimes physical illnesses can cause issues with sleep. For example, if you have allergies or a cold, your stuffed-up nose will cause you to breathe through your mouth. This can cause gasping, coughing, and the feeling that your mouth is full of cotton. None of this is conducive to a good night’s sleep. Sleep apnea is a condition that can cause you to wake up many times during the night without realizing it.
Depression and anxiety can also cause bedtime mayhem. You might sleep too much or suffer from insomnia. Insomnia can also contribute to depression and anxiety, so it’s a double-edged sword. Issues that cause pain or discomfort, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or migraines, are another culprit that can cause poor sleep. If you’re not feeling well, see your doctor to get to the root of the problem.
Try a Soothing Bedtime Routine
Humans are creatures of habit, and creating a sleep routine is important for getting a better night’s sleep. Many people prefer to take a warm shower or bath before bed. It’s soothing and as your body temperature cools down afterward, it can induce drowsiness. Putting on a nice-smelling lotion, particularly one containing lavender, can cue your body that it’s time to go to sleep, particularly if you do it each night at bedtime. Get a final drink of water and settle down into bed. White noise can help you drift off; turn on your ceiling fan or play a recording of rain falling or nature sounds if it helps you sleep. You could also do a guided meditation or progressive muscle relaxation to help you fall asleep.
If after using these tips to get a better night’s sleep you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, it’s important to see your doctor. He or she can rule out health problems and mental health issues. You also might need a sleep aid. It’s important to be in contact with a healthcare professional if you’re finding that you need an over-the-counter sleep aid more than occasionally because some of them can make it more difficult to fall asleep on the nights that you don’t use them. Getting a good night’s sleep can impact other areas of your life, so make it a priority.
Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.