Each New Year, Americans promise themselves they will do better – to eat better, go the gym, to not sweat the small stuff. But what about sleeping better? Quality sleep is critical to maintaining every day health and a lack of sleep has been linked to a myriad of health problems including cardiovascular disease, depression and a weakened immune system.[i] While sleeping more sounds easy, getting the recommended amount of quality sleep can still be a challenge. Below are tips and tricks on getting the best and healthiest night’s sleep.
Stick With A Sleep Routine:
A new year is a great opportunity to start a new routine and a consistent one is essential when trying to sleep better. A consistent sleep routine will train your body for sleep expectations, which will dictate sleep-wake cycles. Routines also help us remain calm and predictable, allowing our bodies to operate more efficiently and easily.[ii] Studies show that a daily routine can lead to a lower rate of insomnia and improved overall quality of sleep.[iii]
Need some tips to jumpstart your routine?
- Wake up and go to sleep around the same time every single night – yes, that weekends too!
- Try to schedule all daily activities, like eating and exercising, for the same times throughout the day.
- Create a bedtime routine that will allow for time relaxing and unwinding before bed.
Most importantly, listen to your body. Most people prefer one time of day to the other. If you always have trouble waking up in the morning, don’t schedule too many morning meetings or an early gym session. However, if you find yourself up and ready to go at the crack of dawn, don’t leave yourself a pile of work late at night.[iv]
Work It Out:
Hitting the gym can benefit sleep quality. One study found that people who regularly exercise have better quality and more consistent sleep than people who don’t.[v] Exercising can prevent sleepiness during the day and may help reduce the risk of sleep disorder symptoms like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.[vi] Even getting as little as ten minutes of light exercise each day can significantly improve your sleep.[vii]
The bedroom should be a quiet, dark, stress-free zone to unwind and relax in at the end of the day. Creating a truly dark sleep space may be difficult for the 95% of Americans that use electronic devices within an hour of their bedtime.[viii] The brain stimulation that comes with exposure to light prevents the body from producing melatonin, which is a key factor in sleep. [ix]
Also consider investing in a new mattress that works for you, especially if you haven’t in a few years. If your mattress is over eight years old, it is time to replace it.[x] “Many people neglect the importance of comfort,” says Dr. Michael Breus, Clinical Psychologist with a specialty in Sleep Disorders. “Your mattress and pillow are the building blocks of your sleep environment.” Make sure both are comfortable and supportive for a better sleep experience.[xi]
Could your partner be the reason for your restless nights? About 23% of married couples don’t sleep together in the same bed because their sleep is disrupted when they share a bed.[xii] Between snoring, fidgety sleep and opposite schedules, there are a number of factors hindering a healthy night’s sleep for couples.
Below are tips to help both you and your partner get a great night’s sleep:.
- Specialty foam beds are a terrific alternative to a traditional mattress. Foam absorbs movement, preventing your partner from waking you up when they get in and out of bed.
- Invest in a bigger bed so that there is enough room for each of you to stretch out without kicking each other.
- Be health conscious! Snoring and frequently disrupted sleep may be caused by a serious underlying problem and should be addressed by your healthcare provider.
- Test your bed at a reputable mattress store and discuss your needs with a qualified sleep consultant to ensure you’re getting the best bed for your specific needs.
- If you and your partner prefer different levels of mattress firmness, look for beds that offer two different, adjustable sides.
More simple sleeping tips include:
- Mind-body medicine including meditation, yoga and Tai Chi
- Manipulative practices like massages and chiropractic remedies such as acupuncture and homeopathy
- Smell lavender to increase Alpha brainwaves in the head – this slows down brain waves while increasing their amplitude, which is associated with states of relaxation and peacefulness.[xiii]
- Make the bedroom for sleeping only – don’t use it for getting dressed, watching TV or responding to emails
The easiest thing to do for great health this New Year is to aim to get six to eight hours of high-quality sleep per night. To achieve a healthy night’s sleep try relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing and visualization are commonly used among those who experience problems sleeping.
Not only are these relaxation techniques free, they’re easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Follow these tips and you’ll be sleeping better in no time!
[v] The Insomnia Blog: http://www.theinsomniablog.com/the_insomnia_blog/exercise_and_sleep/
[vii] The Insomnia Blog: http://www.theinsomniablog.com/the_insomnia_blog/exercise_and_sleep/
[xiii] The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/the-scent-of-sleep_b_157164.html