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5 Tips To Help You Get Better Sleep

Sleep deprivation is a public health problem

Sleep deprivation has a wide impact on individuals and on society as a whole. Lack of sleep can contribute to a decline in cognitive function and impair our memory. According to the CDC, people experiencing sleep deprivation can also develop and experience chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, etc. Sleep deprivation has also be linked to vehicular accidents, industrial disasters, and medical errors.

With all of the evidence stacked up, we are at our best when we are well rested. However, what do we do to make sure we get better sleep? It doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it can be downright easy. There are simple solutions that we can make to our day to day routines in order to acquire the best sleep for our bodies.

Here are 5 tips you can do to work towards getting better rest.

Nix caffeine, alcohol, and other stimulants.

The half-life of caffeine in the human body is about 4 to 6 hours, which means that the full life can be about 8 to 12 hours. That’s a significant amount of time. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that you don’t consume caffeine six hours before you intend to go to bed. Try to avoid things like soda, energy drinks, tea, coffee, and chocolate six hours before sleep, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine.

Be mindful of the lighting in your sleep environment.

Bright light is one of the biggest triggers for our brain to go, “Hey! I need to wake up now!” Dimming down lights in your bedroom will trigger the process in your brain that tells you to start winding down for the day. One suggestion to block out light in your bedroom is to install blackout curtains to keep light out. I personally recommend getting a sleep mask to further block out light. Also, try to maintain as much distance from cell phone and laptop screens approximately an hour before you go to bed. It is so tempting to use our laptops and cell phones before going to bed as we wind down, but the light also triggers that neurological response from our brain to try to stay awake.

Develop a calming, pre-sleeping routine.

Let’s face it. Life is stressful. Sometimes those stresses and worries keep our minds wired throughout the night, impeding our ability to get some decent shut-eye. Approximately an hour before bed, perhaps take a soothing bath, read a book, or listen to music to promote relaxation. I would also suggest deep breathing because it is a simple, yet highly effective relaxation technique. Read more about other relaxation techniques here.

Consider exercising regularly in the morning.

According to a 2013 Sleep in America Survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, people who exercised regularly reported getting better sleep. However, the morning is the best recommended time to do this. Exercise stimulates the stress hormone cortisol, which causes our bodies to become more alert, and increases body temperature. If you are going to exercise in the evening, do it 3 to 4 hours before bed. It will help you have enough time to wind your body down post-exercise.

Create a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends.

It is imperative that you try to go to bed at the same time daily. You also should wake up at the same time every day, including the weekends. This will train your body’s internal body clock to maintain a regular sleeping pattern. Although it will be difficult to get into a routine, be strict with yourself regarding your schedule. Once you set the routine, maintaining a regular sleeping schedule will become easier.

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