Struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep? You’re not alone, millions of Americans struggle with insomnia, the chronic inability to get sufficient sleep. In fact, more than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a daily basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 study.
Lack of sufficient sleep is associated with many serious medical conditions including obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. Getting a decent amount of sleep on a regular basis is essential for a long and healthy life. Here are five things you can do to change your routine and feel rested by getting to sleep quickly and staying asleep.
1. Save the Bed for Just Two Things
Make sure that your bed is used only for two things: sex and sleep. This will create a strong bed-sleep association by using your bed almost exclusively for sleep. So when you tuck in at night, your brain and body will pair your bed with rest and relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.
2. Exercise Regularly
Getting regular exercise (ideally at least thirty minutes a day, five days a week) will help you promote healthy sleep habits. Make sure to exercise earlier in the day or at least 3 hours before bed to allow your system to cool off and settle down after. Regular exercise can also help reduce anxiety and stabilize mood which also supports healthy sleep.
3. Naps, Caffeine, & Alcohol
Naps are helpful for some, but for others it impacts their ability to fall asleep. If you’re struggling with insomnia, keep naps short (less than 45 minutes) and only if needed.
Caffeine, a known stimulant, may keep you up longer than you’re aware. Start with no caffeine after 2pm and move earlier if you are still having difficulty. Some people need to avoid caffeine entirely if they are very sensitive as it can prevent falling asleep.
Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep even though it is a sedative. While you may get to sleep better initially, it can cause you to have trouble staying asleep or getting good sleep quality, so avoid alcohol within a few hours of bedtime.
4. No Screens Before Bedtime
Screen time, such as computers, tablets, and smart phones, can prevent you from falling asleep due to the light tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime. This delays your melatonin production, which is the chemical our bodies produce to tell our brain that it is time for sleep. Help your body get ready for sleep by eliminating screen time at least two hours before bed.
5. Create a Nighttime Routine
Creating a regular nighttime routine will help your body get into the habit of winding down and relaxing as it prepares for sleep. Create a nighttime routine an hour or two before bed. For instance, brush your teeth, change into your pajamas, and settle in to read a book every night before bed. At least while you are establishing your healthy sleep routine, make sure you go to bed and get up around the same time every day, including weekends.
Changing old habits and establishing a new routine can be difficult, but well worth it for a good nights sleep on a regular basis. These healthy habits will help you get the rest you need.
Are you still struggling with insomnia and need help establishing and maintaining healthy sleep habits? Feel free to call me today to set up a free consultation. I can help you figure out what is getting in the way of you getting a good nights sleep and help you establish a healthy sleep pattern.