6 Secrets to a Great Night’s Sleep

Alli Walsh, Social Media Strategist

6 Secrets to a Great Night’s Sleep

While sleep needs are individual, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for most adults. Even if we’re snoozing for “long enough,” many of us feel our sleep itself isn’t quite “good enough.” Take a look at how Americans rated their sleep quality in a NSF survey:1

  • 12% - Excellent
  • 18% - Very Good
  • 35% - Good
  • 23% - Only Fair
  • 12% - Poor

Here are a few pointers that may increase your chances of having better sleep quality:

1. Stick to a sleep schedule

Sleeping is so much more than an item to check-off your To-Do list—you need to sleep. And for best results, follow your body’s natural circadian rhythm. If you fight it—or sleep on an irregular schedule—you tend to feel off your game.

Pick a bedtime and a wake-up time and stick with them as often as you can. On the weekend, try not to sleep more than an hour or two extra. Practicing a sleep routine will get your brain and body used to being on a healthy schedule and you’ll have an easier time falling asleep at night and waking up the next morning. 2

2. Practice a bedtime ritual

Before getting into bed for the night, prepare your body and mind for sleep. The idea is to calm down, so try to avoid close-to-bedtime heavy meals, caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes—not to mention heavy conversations or strenuous exercise—all of these can wind you up! With this in mind, find activities to get yourself into the right “headspace” for sleeping: take a bath, slather on aromatherapy lotion, read a book, listen to soothing music, do some gentle yoga stretches or tai chi…whatever helps you fall asleep when you need to.

3. Nap smartly

If you depend on naps during the day, you may not be getting enough rest at night. But if you do snooze during the day, try and keep it to 20 minutes or less—and the earlier in the day, the better.3 Long naps, especially close to bedtime, can interfere with falling asleep for the long-haul.

4. Exercise

Getting physical activity is part of the recipe for a healthy lifestyle. It’s good for your body and mind—and can even help you sleep better at night. According to NSF, “as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can dramatically improve the quality of your nighttime sleep, especially when done on a regular basis (and) exercisers may reduce their risk for developing troublesome sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.”

Keep in mind: you’ll want to avoid vigorous exercise 3 to 4 hours before you head to bed.3 It might leave you too energized to drift off.

5. Set the scene

Follow these guidelines to help you get comfortable—and keep you from counting sheep: 

  • Prevent yourself from waking up in the middle of the night shivering or kicking off the blankets. Set the right temp. Your sleep-right bedroom temperature is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees.4
  • Only 47% of people report their sleep environment is very quiet.1 If you’re distracted by clocks, traffic, crickets, or snores, employ some ear plugs or turn on a fan or white noise sound machine.
  • Consider your circadian rhythm and dim the lights around your home 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.3 This includes powering down your blue light electronic devices.5 Draw the heavy curtains, pull down the shades, and turn the clock so it faces the wall. If it’s still not dark enough in your bedroom when it’s time for sleep, wear a lightweight eye mask.
  • It kind of goes without saying, but sleeping on comfy mattress and pillows that keep your body in alignment is essential for falling asleep and staying asleep. This article on Consumer Reports will help you understand your sleep position and choose the best type of pillow for your body.

6. Still can’t sleep? See your doctor

If you’ve been trying your best to secure a great night’s sleep—but you’re still tossing and turning—it’s a good idea to talk to a professional.

According to a NSF survey1,

  • 40% indicated snoring a few nights per week or more      
  • 17% of respondents have been told by a physician that they have a sleep disorder
  • 11.6% reported a diagnoses of sleep apnea

A doctor can evaluate your symptoms and help you determine if there’s an underlying medical condition getting in your way. They can help you find the right form of treatment so you’ll be on your way to a wonderful night’s rest.

 

References:

1 "Sleep Health Index 2014 - Highlights." National Sleep Foundation.   

2 Cduford. "How to Get on a Sleep Schedule." Sleep.Org ,Nov. 2014.  

3 "Insomnia: Sleep Tips Slideshow." WebMD. Oct. 2016.

4 "Healthy Sleep Tips." National Sleep Foundation.

5 Schmerler, Jessica. "Q&A: Why Is Blue Light before Bedtime Bad for Sleep?" Scientific American. ,  Aug. 2015. .

6 Lehrman, Celia Kuperszmid. "The Best Pillow for a Good Night's Sleep." Consumer Reports. Jan. 2016.

 

This blog post is intended for educative and entertainment purposes only. It should not be construed as a solicitation.

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