If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you’re not alone. In the US, it’s estimated that between 50-70 million adults aren’t getting enough sleep. Some degree of insomnia is reported in as many as 30% of all adults.
Sleep is vital to both your health, happiness and overall ability to function in life! How happy are you the next day when you’ve had to pull an all-nighter or even just a late-nighter for school, work, or even as part of your social life?
1. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it.
Our bodies adapt very quickly to our sleeping habits. Notice that if you stay up late and eat, your digestion tends to run amuck.
- Most people require 7-9 hours of sleep to function optimally.
- Your body is much more efficient at sleeping and preparing for sleep if you can maintain a schedule.
- Note that Studies have shown that sleeping more than 9 hours or less than 6 hours is associated with feelings of anxiety and sadness.
- If you find you need more than 9 hours and can’t sleep more than 6, a visit to your physician is advised.
- Even one night of low quality or quantity sleep is associated with insulin resistance, a major cause of type-2 diabetes. Those that sleep less than 6 hours are also far more likely to develop high blood pressure.
2. Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol can help you fall asleep, but sleep quality is compromised. It has been shown that sleep is less restful and you’ll wake up more often during the night, even if you don’t remember it.
- Note: Studies show that the negative effects of alcohol are more pronounced in women.
3. Turn off devices before bed.
Bright screens and crime dramas may be interfering with your sleep. Not only does the content of what you look at impact your sleep but the blue light emitted from these devices before bedtime interferes with the body’s ability to product sufficient melatonin required for falling asleep and for sleeping deeply. Shut off your phone and computer a couple of hours before you retire.
4. Use orange glasses.
If you must look at a device prior to bed, be sure to wear orange glasses to block the blue light that interferes with the production of melatonin. They are extremely helpful and scientifically proven to improve sleep quality!
5. Ensure you get enough vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium.
Vitamin B6 is needed to synthesize melatonin, which is vital to sleep. Calcium deficiency has been shown to increase the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. (Note, there is a danger associated with calcium supplementation so it is usually best to get adequate calcium through diet. See Chris Kresser’s article, Calcium Supplements: Why You Should Think Twice.) Magnesium intake is associated with the ability to stay asleep and is also a critical vitamin for over 300 bodily functions!
6. Keep your bedroom cool.
Your body temperature drops as you near bedtime and is at its lowest during sleep. If the room is too warm, your body won’t be able to cool down.
- Sleep quality is improved in a cool sleeping environment.
- You’ll have to play around with the temperature to find what’s ideal for you.
7. Try not to exercise within 3 hours of your bedtime.
Exercise is great for increasing the quality of sleep and decreasing the amount of time required to fall asleep. However, studies have shown that 3 hours is the cutoff point to prevent exercising from decreasing sleep quality.
8. Darken the room.
Even the light from your alarm clock can compromise the quality of your sleep.
- Remove as much artificial light from your sleeping environment as possible.
- Turn off the computer screen and minimize any ambient light coming from outside the room.
- Black out drapes will stop street lights (and even moonlight) from keeping you up.
9. How’s your mattress and pillow?
Even the highest quality mattress has lost as much as 75% of its support after 10 years.
- You probably spend more time sleeping than you do on any other single activity. Be certain you have a good mattress. Purchase the best mattress you can afford.
- Many people find that using a cervical pillow helps them to remain comfortable without putting undo strain on their neck while sleeping.
- Hugging a full-length body pillow can help stomach sleepers learn to sleep on their sides.
Sleep is an important part of maintaining health and enjoying life. If you’d enjoy sleeping more like a baby, keep these tips in mind. Maintain a regular sleeping schedule and ensure that your sleeping environment supports peaceful sleep.