Summer may be in full swing; however, the school year is right around the corner. With that comes more activities, more obligations, and possibly more stress. So many of us already have jam-packed schedules with family responsibilities, work obligations, and other social activities. It's easy to let sleep fall by the wayside.
The benefits of getting a good night’s sleep are beyond simply feeling rested. Medical research has found that adults who consistently get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night are less prone to chronic illness such as diabetes and heart disease have stronger immunity, improved mood, better sex lives, and increased brain power. It is tempting to stay up late in hopes of finishing up work projects or watching your favorite TV shows, but when late nights are the rule and not the exception, you are putting your health at risk!
Making sleep a priority is fundamental to a healthy lifestyle. Further, developing healthy sleep habits or what I like to call practicing good sleep hygiene not only reinforces this priority but is, in fact, the first step in treating insomnia. Before heading to the pharmacy, try implementing some of the sleep hygiene strategies listed below. They really do work!
10 Tips Guaranteed to Help You Fall Asleep Faster
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Avoid sleeping in on the weekends.
- Do a relaxing activity before bed. Avoid exciting or stimulating TV programs or competitive games. If you have to use your computer or phone before bed, go to the device settings and change the color temperature of your screen to filter out blue light. Exposure to blue light via screens can actually contribute quite a lot to eye strain and sleep disorders.
- Write down your worries in a journal or review the next day’s busy schedule before going to bed. This may help stop a racing mind and your worries from keeping you awake at night.
- Use your bed only for sleep and sex. Do not read, use your computer or watch TV in bed.
- Get out of bed if you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes (or within 15 minutes of waking up in the middle of the night) and do a quiet activity, minimizing exposure to screens or bright light until you start to feel sleepy again.
- Keep your bedroom comfortable – Control the temperature, noise level and amount of light in your room. Use earplugs, white noise and/or blackout curtains if necessary.
- Exercise regularly but not within 90 minutes of bedtime.
- Eat a light bedtime snack, drink warm milk or herbal (non-caffeinated) tea. Avoid heavy meals, a lot of fluids or alcohol within 2 hours of bedtime. (alcohol can make you sleepy but ultimately has the opposite effect on sleep).
- Avoid caffeinated foods and beverages afternoon.
- Get exposure to natural sunlight daily, preferably early in the morning.
Written by Renae Wortz, Nurse Practitioner