Sleep is such an important part of our health. Yet, a lot of Americans don’t sleep enough, or well. There are a ton of different issues as to why that is, and a lot of them have to do with our lifestyle, and the way we go to bed. Check out these super easy tips on how you can get a better night’s sleep with a few minor changes.
1. What is considered good sleep?
Dr. Dalia Lorenzo, instructor of neurology in the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Miami Veterans Affairs Hospital, told WebMD that a sleep cycle consists of two basic states: Rapid eye movement sleep (REM), and non-REM sleep, which has four stages. Each state needs about 90 minutes to complete a cycle. If you are able to complete those cycles, uninterrupted, through the night, then you will have a good night’s sleep.
Next: With that basic knowledge, let’s start getting a better night’s rest.
2. Try to have a regular sleep schedule
Your sleep schedule is extremely important. Most adults need about eight hours of sleep a night. But, more importantly, people need a set schedule for when that is. You need to be going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
Next: The Jedi would not approve, but sleep scientists would.
3. Embrace the darkness
As a society, we do not get enough time in the dark. Darkness is what triggers our sleep cycle, by releasing melatonin into our bodies. You may think that you are getting the darkness you need, but there are little things that are making our brains think it’s still daytime.
Next: Clear your room of all the light.
4. You’re keeping your brain up
A lot of people keep their phones in their rooms when they go to bed. Unfortunately, this is very distracting for your brain. The light comes on in the middle of the night, and even though you may not be conscious of it, your brain wakes up a little and interrupts your slumber.
Next: It’s not just phones.
5. Anything that lights up is a distraction
This goes for tablets as well, so don’t try to sneak around the fact that it’s not technically a phone. There are also night-lights, watches, computers, etc. Anything that makes un-natural light needs to go. LED screens are especially harmful in getting you the rest you need because they emit a blue light that puts a stop to melatonin production.
Next: Stay cool … literally.
6. Keep your room cool
The optimal sleeping temperature in a room is at around 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people like to keep it warmer in the bedroom, but that can actually be counterproductive.
Next: The reason why is actually fascinating.
7. Your core temperature needs to drop
Oddly enough, when you go to sleep, your body’s core temperature will drop a few degrees to initiate a good night’s rest. If you keep your room extra warm, or you have too many blankets on the bed, you could be delaying your bodies ability to lose that unnecessary heat.
Next: Your not going to like these next two pieces of advice.
8. Avoid caffeine
It sounds awful, but it’s not as bad as you’d think. Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep your brain awake. The caffeine in your coffee, tea, or sometimes chocolate is what is known as an adenosine receptor antagonist. Adenosine is another chemical in your body that promotes sleepiness. Caffeine blocks adenosine from being received by your body.
Next: Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up coffee completely.
9. A little bit of caffeine is just fine
While caffeine is a big inhibitor to our rest cycles, it does have a few benefits for us. We, as a culture, just drink way too much coffee. So try to limit yourself to about 300-400 mg of caffeine a day. That’s the equivalent of four cups (8-ounce cups) of coffee.
Next: This drink will really mess your sleep schedule up.
10. Put the bottle down
Alcohol is one of the worst things for you when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. I know, it’s a wildly unpopular idea, but alcohol is terribly misunderstood. A lot of people use alcohol to help them get to bed quicker. However, that’s not exactly how alcohol works. You’re essentially just knocking the brain out, and denying it the proper sleep cycle to wake up rested.
Next: Here’s why that is bad for your sleep.
11. When you drink, you don’t get REM sleep
Doctors and researchers have found that alcohol will get you to sleep quicker. The problem comes from alcohol not allowing you to get to those deeper states of sleep, like REM sleep. Your sleeping becomes more fragmented, and your brain wakes up more often. That results in having a long night of sleep, but not a very restful slumber.
Next: Can’t sleep? Don’t.
12. Get out of bed if you haven’t fallen asleep quickly
Most people will fall asleep within 20 minutes of laying down. Some experts recommend that you get up and walk away from the bedroom if you aren’t falling asleep after that period of time. They recommend doing a relaxing activity like reading or listening to calming music.
Next: Not following this instruction will cause the problem to get worse.
13. Make sure your brain doesn’t get the wrong idea
The reason experts want you to leave the bedroom after 20 minutes is actually important. Your brain can make very quick associations with certain things in your life. So if you are in your bed for more than 20 minutes, your brain may begin to associate that with wakeful thoughts or feelings. What you want is for your bed and bedroom to inspire thoughts of sleepiness.
Next: This final trick will help you get to sleep every time.
14. Practice meditation
Meditation is great for a lot of things in life. One of those is getting your body in the mindset for sleep. The big way that meditation helps is by calming all those thoughts of anxiety that we picked up through the day. In a way, it gets rid of the “rolodex of bad thoughts” that we all get right before bed.
Next: If all else fails, do this final thing.
15. Go see your doctor
If all else fails, it is possible that you may have a sleeping disorder. We obviously cannot diagnose that for you, so you’re going to have to go and see your doctor for help on that front. Other than that, we hope this list of ideas was helpful in your search for better sleep.
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