We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is important. It is essential to one’s mental, emotional and physical health. Despite this, many people still do not get the seven to eight hours of sleep each night that is recommended by sleep experts. So, what is keeping people from sleeping properly?
There are many reasons why someone might not get the recommended amount or quality of sleep. It may be something as simple as sleeping on the wrong type of mattress. It could also be something a little more complicated like stress. According to The Better Sleep Council, about 23 percent of those having trouble sleeping claim it is due to family issues and about 16 percent claim personal finances keep them awake at night.
No matter the reason for trouble sleeping, The Better Sleep Council has developed some tips to help individuals attain better sleep.
• Make sleep a priority. Keep a consistent sleep and wake schedule — even on the weekends. If necessary, try adding sleep to your to-do list. And don’t be late.
• Maintain a relaxing sleep routine. Create a bedtime routine that relaxes you. Experts recommend reading a book, listening to soothing music or soaking in a hot bath.
• Create a sleep sanctuary. Your bedroom should be a haven of comfort. Create a room that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool for the best sleep possible. Consider a bedroom makeover.
• Evaluate your sleep system. Your mattress and pillow should provide full comfort and support. Your bed and your body will naturally change over time, so if your mattress is seven years old (or older), it may be time for a new one. Pillows should generally be replaced every year.
• Keep work materials out. The bedroom should be used for sleep and sex only. Keep stressors, such as work, outside the bedroom.
• Banish technology. Television, smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers should be kept out of the bedroom. Intense backlighting of electronics triggers stimulating chemicals in the brain that tell your body it’s time to be awake.
• Exercise early. Complete your workouts at least two hours before bedtime to ensure quality sleep. Even a brisk walk can increase blood flow and improve your sleep.
• Assess your space. Did you know that for couples who sleep on a “double”, each person only has as much sleeping space as a baby’s crib? Whether you sleep with a partner or alone, your mattress should allow enough space for you to be able to move freely and easily.
• Replace caffeine with water after lunch. Caffeine can remain in your system longer than you might realize. Stay hydrated with water instead of having coffee, tea or soda in the afternoon.
• Drink alcohol earlier in the day. If you need to indulge, a glass of wine soon after work can calm your nerves and help worries melt away, while still giving your body ample time to digest the alcohol before bed.
• Take 20- to 30-minute naps. Short naps can be restorative without disrupting your sleep. Experts say even a 10-minute nap can improve alertness for 2.5 hours when you’re sleep deprived and for up to 4 hours when you are well rested.
• Eat light in the evening. Finish eating at least two to three hours before bedtime.
• Keep a worry journal. Distance yourself from things that cause stress and anxiety. Writing down the things that are bothering you can give you perspective and help you relax. Just don’t keep your journal in your bedroom.
• Set a snooze button quota. Only hit the snooze button once per day, and set it for the latest setting possible in order to still wake up on time. You will feel more refreshed if your sleep isn’t disrupted multiple times.
• Buy an alarm clock. And keep your phone in the other room. Smartphones in particular can represent a source of stress during the day, and proximity to the bed can disrupt sleep — even if it doesn’t make noise or is set to vibrate.
Brittney Tschudy, BSH, RN, TTS Hocking County Health Department, writes a weekly column published in The Logan Daily News.