Make These Easy Changes for Better Sleep
Posted byMartha Garcia
You’re tired, groggy and can’t think clearly. The culprit: not enough sleep. Between work, kids, finances and other worries how can you enjoy better sleep?
The Centers for Disease Control notes that 35 percent of American adults do not get enough sleep.1 National guidelines indicate adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night, according to a study published by the Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.2 Here are some tips you can use that may help you not only get enough sleep, but better sleep, that may help you feel ready to tackle the day.
Follow Your Body’s Lead
When you start to feel drowsy in the evening, go to sleep. Fight the urge when you experience a food coma after dinner, but follow the feeling later in the evening. This is your body’s internal clock telling you it needs shut eye. It helps to signal the best time to hit the hay. If you stay up past that signal, your body may give you a boost of cortisol, hence the second wind you may feel around 11:30 pm.
Also, make sure to get some vigorous exercise during the day. A study published by the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine linked not getting enough sleep to an increased risk of obesity and higher intake of carbs.3 As if losing weight isn’t hard enough. Don’t exercise before bedtime, as that may stimulate cortisol, keeping you awake longer.
Focus on Light and Electronics
During the day, make sure to expose yourself to bright sunshine, especially in the morning. According to the National Sleep Foundation, exposure to light stimulates the brain to feel awake and controls other functions, like temperature and hormones.4
At night, put down the electronics two hours before bed. The blue light emitted from cellphones, TVs and other electronics interrupt your body’s signal to release melatonin. The National Sleep Foundation warns taking in blue light before bed may make it harder for you to fall asleep once you lay down.5 You may also experience less REM sleep and feel groggier when waking up.
Really can’t pull yourself away from the iPad before bed? Then use light dimming apps. Some electronics come equipped with this feature, to dim the screen and change the hues from blue to yellow. Try turning down the contrast so it isn’t so bright. If you are a serious device junkie, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses around the house after 7 pm.
Practice Mindful Drinking
Drink a hot cup chamomile tea. Chamomile is known for its calming effects. The folks at Health recommend chamomile to calm stress.6 So, if an upcoming presentation at work is keeping you up, consider settling down with a hot mug of caffeine-free tea and maybe some soothing yoga poses before bed.
Don’t reach for the booze. A study published by Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research concluded people who drank alcohol before bed showed brain wave patterns similar to someone who continually received disruptive stimuli all night.7 The alcohol stimulates the brain and doesn’t let the brain fully rest.
Control Your Environment
Try to keep your bedroom quiet and dark. Invest in blackout curtains or a sleep mask to keep light from reaching your eyes. Keep things as quiet as possible. Wear ear plugs to reduce noise or try a white noise machine to lull you to sleep.
Establish a bedtime routine. That may include putting on comfy pajamas, drinking a cup of tea and washing your face. When done every night, the routine may be a cue to your body that it is time to wind down. Also, try reading an old-fashioned book before bed, not on a screen. Immersing yourself in a fantasy world may drift you off to Dreamland and on your way to a peaceful slumber.
1“Getting Enough Sleep?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. February 23, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/features/getting-enough-sleep/index.html.
2Hirshkowitz, M., PhD. et al. “National Sleep Foundations sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary.” Sleep Health, 1(1). March 2015. http://www.sleephealthjournal.org/article/S2352-7218%2815%2900015-7/fulltext.
3Schecter, A., PhD, Grandner, M.A., PhD, St-Onge, MP., PhD. “The Role of Sleep in the Control of Food Intake.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. August 6, 2014. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1559827614545315?journalCode=ajla&.
4“Melatonin and Sleep.” National Sleep Foundation. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep.
5“How Blue Light Affects Kids and Sleep.” National Sleep Foundation. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/how-blue-light-affects-kids-sleep.
6Kennedy, Megan. “The Best Teas for Sleep, Anxiety, Bloating, Cramps, and More.” Health. March 9, 2016. http://www.health.com/mind-body/the-best-teas-for-sleep-anxiety-bloating-cramps-and-more.
7Chan, J. et al. “The Acute Effects of Alcohol on Sleep Electroencephalogram Power Spectra in Late Adolescence.” Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. January 16, 2015. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acer.12621/abstract.
- Posted by Martha Garcia
- On May 25, 2017