According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), between 50 and 70 million Americans have some sort of sleep disorder. It is considered to be a major public health problem and has been linked to issues like motor accidents and professional errors. The good news is that there are many simple ways to improve the quality of your sleep.
Keep a Schedule
Keeping a schedule is incredibly important for good sleep! Healthline reports that going to bed and getting up around the same time each day can help the body establish an internal clock. There are a variety of ways to do this. Sleep researchers at Harvard Health note that having a before-bed routine such as reading, bathing, or listening to music can also help you relax before bed.
Turn off Devices
Turning off the television and other devices like tablets or laptops is also important. Light from these devices can stimulate the brain and make it hard to wind down in the evening. It is best to make sure these devices are turned off at least one hour before going to sleep.
Keep the Room Cool and Quiet
A cool, dark room can also help you fall asleep fast and sleep better. Keeping the room around 65 degrees and adjusting bedding and sleep attire to reduce the core body temperature can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. A room that is too light can also interrupt the body’s production of melatonin, making sleep more difficult.
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
Cutting back on caffeine in the afternoon can avoid the problem of feeling wide-awake or jittery. Experts recommend that if you are having a hard time getting to sleep, it is best to cut out caffeine at least 4-6 hours before bedtime.
Eat Light Dinners
Another good way to make sure that you have a good night’s sleep is to keep your dinner light. Heavy, fatty, or spicy meals can cause indigestion or heartburn and interrupt sleep. Harvard Health suggests a small, light snack, such as something with a protein and carbohydrate (like cheese and crackers).
Try Herbal and Natural Therapies
Herbal and natural therapies –especially in combination with the lifestyle changes mentioned above – are also good to consider: medical experts at Health.com recommend melatonin, a combination of calcium and magnesium, hops, wild lettuce and L-theanine. However, it is important to talk to your doctor before beginning a supplement, as they could interact with medications you are already taking.
In short, you don’t necessarily need a prescription for sleeping pills from your doctor if you are not getting enough shut-eye. The therapies above are simple to employ and can greatly improve the quality of your sleep – as well as your daytime energy levels and overall health.
Brian Wu is a current PhD graduate and MD candidate who enjoys writing about health, science, and the ways it can “hack” your life. He is currently working on the Health Stories For Kids– Medical Ebooks that Educate and Entertain. Check out more at www.healthstoriesforkids.com.
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