Who hasn’t experienced it? You’re in the midst of a glorious night’s sleep, comfortably dreaming away, and suddenly you’re thrust back into reality. You’re awake, but your eyes aren’t open yet. The state of your restfulness tells you that it’s clearly not time for you to wake-up, but you have to take a peek at that clock, just to make sure.
It’s 2:00 am, or maybe it’s 3:00 am, or even 4:00 am. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you’re now awake and kicking yourself for overthinking it. Because let me tell you, my friend, there’s no way you’re going back to sleep now.
Does this story sound familiar? If so, you may be one of 60 million Americans that struggle with insomnia each year. So, one could say that you’re far from being in the boat alone on this one.
That said, the consequences of a lack of shut-eye make it worth addressing. In the short term, a lack of sleep can raise your blood pressure, change your metabolic rate, make you mentally slower, and exacerbate negative feelings. Over the long-term, there’s a link between chronic insomnia and a host of health conditions, including heart disease, depression, and anxiety.
So, have we convinced you it’s time to do something about those sleepless nights? If so, read on because we have a few tips to help you fall asleep easier and stay that way for the night!
Stick to a Sleep Routine
We all have a natural circadian rhythm or internal “sleep clock.” When we wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, our body naturally falls into a sleep cycle. Our brains produce the hormone melatonin, signaling us to become drowsy and drift off to la-la land.
However, many of us don’t follow a sleep routine. We stay up to watch just one more episode of our favorite Netflix series or sleep in a few extra hours on the weekend. And while that seems innocent enough, we’re wreaking havoc on our natural cycle. So, a word of advice to help you rest, create a sleep schedule and stick to it.
Create a Sleep Oasis
Maybe you find comfort in falling asleep to the TV or leaving on the hall light? Or, perhaps you even have a cat, dog, restless partner, or angry tortoise that likes to wake you up in the middle of the night. Regardless of what it is, you will need to figure out how to either live without or minimize distractions to get adequate rest.
That said, if your beloved pet or partner’s responsible for your fragmented sleep, you can still mitigate the distraction. Try sleeping with your bedroom door closed or problem-solving with your loved one if they’re the issue. You can even try sleeping with a fan on a white noise machine.
Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Ever notice that you fall asleep fast when you have a few too many drinks, but you don’t stay that way? That’s because alcohol knocks you out quicker but messes with your overall sleep quality. It affects sleep rhythms, blocks REM sleep, and increases breathing problems and bathroom trips– all of which add to not getting the rest you need.
Put That Phone Away!
By this point, most of us have heard the jazz about how our electronics’ blue light affects our ability to go to sleep. But, there’s much more to it than that. Let’s go back to the scenario we opened with. After five minutes or so without being able to drift back to sleep, what are you going to reach for? Probably the smartphone that’s sitting next to your bed. And, that’s a bad choice, my friend- it will most certainly seal the deal on your less than restful night.
Do yourself a favor, keep that phone outside your bedroom!
Create a Self-Care Routine
There’s little question that high levels of stress can have an impact on our sleep. It increases anxiety and creates arousal in our brains, and, thus forth, our body.
So, why not take preventative measures to manage that stress? You can try meditation, setting aside time every day to do something enjoyable, going for a walk, or whatever else fills your cup and lowers your stress levels.
Getting off the couch or out of that desk chair impacts your ability to have a goodnight’s sleep. Exercise heats up your body, resulting in a significant temperature drop after activity, working to promote sleep. Not only that, it decreases symptoms of depression, anxiety, and improves your overall health.
However, it’s worthy to note that studies show excessive vigorous aerobic activity and weightlifting do not seem to have a positive impact on quality rest.
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