If you feel like you never seem to get enough sleep at night, you’re definitely not alone! More than one-third of adults in America aren’t getting enough sleep, and the consequences of this can be quite significant for your health. High blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, stress and other concerns can all stem from not getting the Zzz’s you need.
On the bright side, there are a few easy steps you can take to make sure you get a good night’s sleep every night.
Prioritize Your Comfort
Being comfortable is directly related to your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. While this may seem obvious, you can actually improve your overall comfort with minor adjustments like changing your sheets more frequently or sleeping with an extra pillow.
More than anything, sleeping comfortably will depend on your mattress. The National Sleep Foundation states that 9 out of 10 people rate their mattress as the most important factor for sleeping well.
But not all mattresses are created equally! It’s important to carefully consider the available options, your sleep preferences and your budget. Do you prefer a super soft or medium firm mattress? Do you like sleeping on your side, back or stomach? Are you buying it in store or are you getting a bed in a box shipped right to your home? Since the right mattress is the foundation for getting a good night’s sleep, you should definitely take your time finding the right one.
Some foods can cause problems if eaten too close to bedtime. Rich, spicy, fatty and fried foods can be heavy in yourstomach and trigger heartburn or indigestion. If you do need a snack before bed, stick to foods high in vitamins, proteins and antioxidants.
Lower Your Stress Levels
Everyone has had a restless night full of tossing and turning because of high stress levels. As one of the leading causes of sleep deprivation, stress can make it seem nearly impossible to relax enough to drift off to sleep. However, there are some key steps you can take to reduce the effects of stress on your sleep health:
- Limit your caffeine intake. Coffee, chocolate, tea and soda: All of these are usually big parts of our day but they all also contain caffeine, which is going to prevent you from falling asleep easily. Make sure to limit your caffeine intake at least four to six hours before you want to fall asleep.
- Hide your clock. When you’re having a hard time falling asleep, staring at your clock and counting down the minutes until your alarm goes off can be very distracting. Have your clock facing away from you or put it somewhere you can’t see it.
- Make your bed a phone-free zone. Your phone and other devices like games and tablets can be way too distracting when you’re trying to fall asleep. Plus, the blue light emanating from these electronics can suppress your melatonin production, which is a crucial chemical your body needs in order to fall asleep.
- Create a pleasant sleep environment. Your bedroom should encourage relaxation, which is why cool, quiet environments are best for snoozing. If you’re in a noisy area, try using ear plugs or a noise machine to block out distractions. You can also use blackout curtains or eye masks to prevent light from disturbing your slumber.
Create a Routine and Stick to It
Oversleeping and pulling all-nighters is actually harmful to your overall sleep health. Your body’s internal clock responds better to falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day. Try to stick to a set sleep schedule to help your body fall asleep faster and easier. This can also keep you from getting drowsy throughout the day!
Go Easy on the Napping
Taking a quick cat nap can be all too tempting once the three o’clock slump kicks in. But napping at the wrong time or for too long can decrease your sleep drive, which will make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you do find yourself needing a nap, be sure to limit it to 30 minutes. Setting an alarm will help keep you from overdoing it.
Remember: Smart sleep habits include more than just your routine before bedtime — the activities you do throughout the day will also affect the amount of sleep you get each night. But if you’re conscious of what you’re doing throughout the day and how it could affect your sleep, you’ll be on your way to sleeping and feeling better!