Sleep is essential but about 1/3 of Americans don’t get enough sleep. So if you think you have a problem sleeping, you’re not alone. Chances are, changing a few of your daily habits can drastically improve your sleep patterns. Here, a few quick tips to catch some zzzs.
- Exercise more. My number one tip for sleeping longer and better is to get more exercise. If you don’t exert yourself, you will not sleep well. No matter what else is going on that might be disrupting your sleep, the first step is to increase your physical activity. Body movements demand more oxygen, and that oxygen reaches all parts of your body, including your brain. Your body uses more energy, and that causes sleepiness. Exercise also helps reduce stress and anxiety, which can keep you up at night. However, it’s best to avoid vigorous exercise within an hour of bedtime to allow your heart rate to settle and to allow your body to ease into its bedtime routine.
- Turn off the television and your phone. If you work and exercise right up until bedtime, your mind and body will be fully engaged and it will take longer to fall asleep. Similarly, if you become absorbed in stressful activities right before bed, you’ll be thinking about them while you are trying to fall asleep. Watching TV or browsing online just before bed (or even in bed) can fool your brain into believing it’s not time to sleep: The blue tinted light in these devices is not helpful, so if you have a problem falling asleep, that could be one of the reasons.
- Calm down. You want to make sure both your mind and body are calm and relaxed before bedtime. Stop working, shut down your computer and even consider meditating. If you are feeling stressed, a warm bath and warm herbal tea can help. Also, a calming nutraceutical like Hush & Hush MindYourMind can be taken one hour before bed to help ease you into a more relaxed state.
- Cut down on the caffeine. Coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas all work to keep people awake, so it’s hardly surprising that caffeinated drinks, before bedtime, are disruptive to sleep. Try and drink caffeinated drinks in small quantities, and only in the morning and early afternoon. It helps to allow at least eight hours between your last cup of coffee and going to bed; that gives the caffeine time to work through your system.