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Getting enough sleep is a huge issue in the United States today. A busy life can affect your ability to sleep but other issues like hormones, diet, sleeping environment, stress, or medical conditions can affect how well you sleep.
It’s easy to point to your schedule as the reason why you can’t get enough sleep. By the time you get a free moment, it’s time for bed. But then there’s a TV show you want to see or one more thing you need to finish. Then you stay up too late. It’s a vicious cycle.
In my case, medical conditions affected my sleep habits. I was attached to a dialysis machine for 10 hours every night – it could be a little difficult to sleep! Since the transplant, some medications can make it difficult to sleep too. You have to make the sleep environment as conducive to sleep as possible!
So, these tips are helpful to me as well.
Remember It’s Bedtime
Remember how your parents pestered you about bedtime? They had a point. Instead of looking at the ever-later clock each night, knowing you “really should” get to bed, set a bedtime and stick with it. Most experts agree that you should go to sleep before midnight, preferably before 11 pm.
If this isn’t possible, be realistic and set a bedtime when you know you can actually keep it, even if it’s midnight or 12:30 am. Then be sure you get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep.
Another note about bedtime – if it’s too early, that can cause problems too, experts note. If you find yourself falling asleep at 7 or 8 pm, you may find that you will wake up in the small hours after only 5- or 6-hours’, and you will be awake.
Make Your Bedroom a Place to Sleep
You may have a set-up in your bedroom that is not conducive to sleep. Here are some things to look for and adjust in your bedroom to make it more attractive for sleep.
- Dark and cool is the rule for a sleepy bedroom. Darkness is important for a proper night’s sleep – lights from neighbors’ homes, screens (including the TV or computer screen), lamps, and so forth can disturb your sleep patterns. Cooler temperatures are said to promote sleep. A higher body temperature may actually stimulate the body and prevent sleep, but cool temperatures help promote a comfortable night’s rest.
- Your bed is for sleeping, not working. If you’re in the habit of working on bills, office work, etc. while sitting on or in bed, you might be inadvertently training your brain to be stimulated when you are in your bed. Also, it’s harder to walk away from work worries if you literally take them to bed with you! Try to keep your work in another room, or at least away from your bed. I am guilty of this!
- Keep it quiet in your bedroom. If you have trouble in this regard, use a fan or other source of white noise at night to drown out disruptive sounds.
Create Bedtime Sleep Rituals
You might also not have good bedtime rituals and sleep habits. The way you get ready for bed each night is just as important as the quality of your mattress and having a relaxing environment. If you watch TV on the couch every night and fall asleep there, you are going to wake up with back and neck pain, and have trouble falling back asleep.
Start preparing for bed an hour or so before your actual bedtime by winding down, relaxing with tea or a bath, and doing quiet, relaxing activities like journaling or reading. Make sure you do this consistently every night to get your mind and body ready for bed.
Improve Sleep Outside Your Bedroom
Reduce Worry by Making Lists
Do worries keep you awake? Do you have a hard time turning off your brain? Making a list may help. Write down all those things that are bothering you or that you can’t get off your mind and note some practical steps you can take in the morning (or during the upcoming day or week) to work those things out.
Follow Up on Medical Conditions
Certain medical conditions might also be contributing to your bedtime issues, like Parkinson’s, diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and heart disease. If you suffer from any medical conditions that cause discomfort or stress at night, talk to your doctor about treating them.
Check Your Diet
Finally, your diet should also be considered. There are some foods that can help, such as turkey and healthy carbs, while a diet of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol before bed is going to keep you awake. You will have trouble falling asleep and staying that way, which could keep you from ever reaching that deep, REM sleep everyone needs each night.
Try to work on improving your sleep habits and set your room up to be prepared for bed. Finally, stop leaving your phone on your bed or nightstand. Dealing with each of these issues can help improve your quality of sleep.
Loving Life — The Reboot!