Tips for Getting Better Sleep

Tips  for a Good Night's Sleep
Do you have trouble falling asleep or do you toss and turn in the middle of the night? Do you wake up too early or find yourself feeling unrefreshed in the morning? If so, you’re not alone: millions of people struggle with falling and staying asleep. But by learning how to avoid common pitfalls that get in the way of sleep and adopting a few sleep-inducing techniques, you can start to enjoy restful, quality sleep. Developing a bedtime routine, creating a better sleep environment, managing stress and anxiety, following a sleep schedule, and taking better care of your body all set the stage for getting quality rest every night. 

How much sleep do I need?

Do you have a realistic idea of how much sleep you need? A general guideline for adults is 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Older adults need a similar amount, but the sleep may be lighter and may include a brief nap during the day. If you are consistently waking up groggy and exhausted, that’s a signal that you may need to up your sleep intake. If you’ve been sleep deprived, it may take a few days of heavier sleeping before you can get a sense of your average sleep needs.

What happens when you don’t get enough sleep

With a packed schedule, trying to squeeze as many hours of possible into the day is sorely tempting. However, when you continuously don’t get the amount of sleep you need, you begin to pay for it in many ways:
  • Impaired mood, memory, and concentration. When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re less productive, not more. Lack of sleep affects your ability to concentrate and remember things. What’s more, it makes you irritable and cranky. As a result, you’re social and decision-making skills suffer>
  • Dampened immune system. Without adequate sleep, the immune system becomes weak, making you more vulnerable to colds, flu, and other infections and diseases. And if you get sick, it takes you longer to recover.
  • Increased risk of accidents. Did you know that driving while seriously sleep deprived is similar to driving while drunk? The lack of motor coordination associated with sleep deprivation also makes you more susceptible to falls and injury.

Getting better sleep tip 1: Create a better sleep environment

If you think you’re getting enough sleep, but you have trouble waking up in the morning, struggle with daytime sleepiness, or feel tired and cranky despite clocking plenty of hours in bed, you may not be getting enough of the deep restorative sleep your body needs. In order to deepen your sleep and minimize disruptions during the night, you may need to make some changes to your sleep environment.

Your bed

  • Is your bed large enough? You should have enough room to stretch and turn comfortably, including with a bedmate present.
  • Your mattress, pillows, and bedding. Waking up with a cramp in your back or a sore neck? Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers or egg crate toppers, and pillows that provide more support.

Your room

  • Better  Sleep Tip 1: Create a better sleep environmentKeep the noise level down. Too much noise—loud outside conversations, televisions blaring, music, traffic—can make it difficult to sleep well. If outside noise can’t be blocked, try masking it with a fan, white noise, or recordings of soothing sounds. Earplugs may also help.
  • Keep your room dark during sleep hours. When it’s time to sleep, make sure that your environment is dark. Even dim lights—especially those from TV or computer screens—can confuse the body clock. Heavy shades can help block light from windows, or you can try an eye mask to cover your eyes.
  • Room temperature and ventilation. If you can, experiment with the room temperature. Most people sleep best in a slightly cooler room with adequate ventilation. Check your windows and doors to make sure that drafts are not interfering with sleep.
  • Reserve your bed for sleeping. If you associate your bed with events like work or errands, it will only make it harder to wind down at night. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. 

Getting better sleep tip 2: Learn how to get back to sleep

Better Sleep Tip 3: Learn how to get back to sleep
It’s normal to wake briefly during the night. In fact, a good sleeper won’t even remember it. But if you’re waking up during the night and having trouble falling back asleep, the following tips may help.

Getting back to sleep

  • Stay relaxed: The key to getting back to bed is continuing to cue your body for sleep. Some relaxation techniques, such as visualization and meditation, can be done without even getting out of bed. The time-honored technique of “counting sheep” works by engaging the brain in a repetitive, non-stimulating activity, helping you wind down.
  • Do a quiet, non-stimulating activity: If you’ve been awake for more than 15 minutes, try getting out of bed and doing a quiet activity. Keep the lights dim so as not to cue your body clock that it’s time to wake up. A light snack or herbal tea might help relax you, but be careful not to eat so much that your body begins to expect a meal at that time of the day.
  • Don’t stress about it: Hard as it may be, try not to stress over an inability to fall asleep again, because that very stress and anxiety encourages your body to stay awake. Remind yourself that although it’s not a replacement for sleep, rest and relaxation still can help rejuvenate your body. Concentrate on relaxation, not sleep.

Sleep medications can get in the way of better sleep

If only sleeplessness could be completely cured by a simple pill! There are certainly plenty of over-the-counter sleep aids and prescription sleeping pills. However, they aren’t meant for long-term use. Sleep medications can cause side effects and even rebound insomnia, where your sleep ends up worse than before. If you must take a sleep aid, work carefully with your healthcare professional. And remember that good sleeping habits have more of an impact than medication.

Getting better sleep tip 3: Optimize your sleep schedule

Make sure you are not going to bed too early

What do you do after a long, hard day, when you’re barely able to stay awake during dinner? Do you crawl into bed as soon as you can or fall asleep on the couch, only to wake up later in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep? Your body goes through cycles of alertness and drowsiness later in the day as your bedtime nears. So even if you are sleepy early in the evening, do something mildly stimulating to prevent yourself from falling asleep at that time, like doing dishes or getting clothes ready for the next day. If you push though that window, you’ll catch your second wind soon and be able to stay awake until your normal bedtime—and sleep through the night.

Set a regular bedtime

Time of day serves as a powerful cue to your body clock that it is time to sleep and awaken. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and it will be easier and easier to fall asleep. Make your bedtime when you are normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. Try not to break this routine on weekends when it may be tempting to stay up late or sleep in. If you want to change your bedtime, help your body adjust by making the change in small daily increments, such as 15 minutes earlier or later each day.

Limit napping

Napping can interfere with sleep 
Perhaps the English had the right idea in having teatime in the late afternoon when you naturally get sleepy. Some people, especially older adults, can take a short afternoon nap and still sleep well at night. However, if you are having trouble sleeping at night, try to eliminate napping. If you must nap, do it in the early afternoon, and sleep no longer than about thirty minutes.