Have you ever been lying in bed, trying to sleep, but no matter how hard you try your eyes just won’t close? You toss and turn to no avail. You look at the clock and think, If I fall asleep now, I’ll get 6 hours of sleep…If I fall asleep now I’ll get 5 hours of sleep…
We’ve all had this experience at least once in our lives and there are few things quite as frustrating. Unfortunately, sleep disruptions are a regular thing for many people – it’s estimated that 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from a chronic, long-term sleep disorder each year. Additionally, 20 million more people suffer from occasional sleep problems.
Amongst that combined 60 million people, insomnia is the most prevalent sleep disorder. We live in a world that values performance, which often means a constant connection to work and technology. Many of us feel pressured to squeeze as much productivity out of each day as possible. Sacrificing sleep for a few more hours of productivity can be costly, though.
Years of sleep deprivation can lead to complications like weight gain, depression, heart disease, stroke, and even dementia. Our bodies need time to recover, and sleep is one way to keep our crucial organs healthy.
Ways to sleep better at night
There’s good news, though. There are things you can do at home to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. Here are just a few:
- Stop watching the clock It may be tempting, but when you can’t sleep, try to resist the urge to check the clock. Knowing just how much sleep you’re losing will only create stress and anxiety, and neither will help you fall asleep.
- Reduce your blue light Our computer and phone screens emit blue light, which actually signals our brains to wake up. Try to stop looking at your phone and computer an hour before bedtime. If you need to look at your phone, switch it to sleep setting. Most smartphones can be adjusted in the settings section.
- Use light to your advantage Keep your bedroom dark with light-blocking blinds or drapes, and minimize the light given off by your alarm clock. Light is a major cue to your brain to wake up, so if you have a hard time waking up in the morning, open your blinds as soon as possible or consider getting a blue light to start your day.
- Go to bed when you’re actually tired If you’re not tired, you’ll likely end up watching TV, scrolling on your phone, or working from your bed. If you aren’t tired, go to another room to do these things and come back to bed when you’re tired enough to sleep. If you use your bedroom as a place dedicated only for sleeping, your mind will start to make that connection subconsciously.
- Write it down If you’re the type of person who thinks too much before sleep, keep a notepad on a bedside table. The act of writing down your worries or thoughts as soon as you get in bed can help program your brain to put your troubles aside before sleep and drift away more easily over time.
- Keep it cool and quiet Avoid music or leaving the TV on to fall asleep. If you need noise to sleep, use a white noise machine, or consider or a bedroom fan – actually, keeping your room between 60 and 67 degrees at night is best for melatonin production.
- Keep a routine Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will help get your body into a rhythm. Set your alarm clock so you’re getting 8 hours each night – even on the weekends.
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npr. (2008, May 20). “Can’t Sleep? Neither Can 60 Million Other Americans.” Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90638364
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