After just one night of poor sleep, you’ll wake up feeling sleepy and grumpy. When restless nights and groggy mornings become more frequent, this may cause serious mental and physical health effects. As most people get older, their sleep patterns change. If you have a sleep partner, their sleep issues can also affect you. Insomnia increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and other serious health issues. Many people turn to sleep medications, but they can have various unwanted side effects. Before you try prescription sleep medication or over-the-counter sleep aids, try these methods to get a better night’s sleep.
1. Exercise Every Day
Something as small as a brisk, 30-minute walk can help you sleep better at night. Daily exercise helps your body make use of melatonin, which is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. It’s best to do your workout in the morning because the bright daylight aligns your circadian rhythm so that you’re wide awake during the day and sleepy at night. Daily exercise also helps you lose extra weight and maintain a healthy body weight. Things like obesity can interfere with sleep, and losing just a little weight could help you sleep better.
2. Only Use Your Bedroom for Intimacy and Sleep
Don’t use your bedroom as a yoga studio, home office, craft room, gaming room or anything else that’s stressful or triggers alertness. By reserving your bedroom and bed for sleep and intimacy only, your brain will associate the space with relaxation and sleep. If possible, keep things like televisions, phones, clutter, laundry baskets, and bills out of your bedroom.
3. Maintain a Comfortable Bedroom
Make sure your bed is comfortable enough your sleeping through the night. Many mattresses are designed with different features, so finding the right bed for you involves a lot of research. Don’t forget to ask your partner what they like in a mattress because chances are they have their own preferences as well.
The good news is that hybrids mattresses offer many layers and firmness options so both sleepers will be happy using the same model.
4. Start a Nighttime Routine
When you were young, your parents or caregiver may have read you a story, helped you brush your teeth and tucked you into bed at night. This ritual calmed you and helped you fall asleep at night. As an adult, you can also create a relaxing nighttime routine. These rituals tell your mind that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Your routine might include playing some relaxing music, doing a few stretches, putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth and writing in a journal for 10 minutes.
5. Avoid Eating Late
If possible, avoid eating a big meal within three hours of your bedtime. Eating late can increase the chances of you experiencing physical and mental exhaustion. If you do get hungry at night, try having a small snack. Things like pistachios, crackers and cheese, trail mix,etc., are all good options for a late night snack.
6. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Avoid any caffeinated or alcoholic beverages at night. If you do like coffee or soda, consume it earlier in the day. Caffeine’s half-life is four to eight hours, so your body could take a while to process it. Which can affect how fast you fall asleep each night. Alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
7. Practice Relaxation
Practice deep breathing, meditation or any relaxation technique you feel comfortable with before bed. If you’re into journaling, set aside time earlier in the day to write out your worries or do a brain dump. This minimizes the risk of an anxious, stressed brain from activating hormones that interfere with sleep at night.
8. See Your Doctor
If your sleep partner mentions that you toss and turn, gasp for air or snore, make an appointment with your primary care doctor. You might have restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea or another condition that interferes with sleep. Each of these conditions has effective treatments. If you think anxiety is the cause of your sleep issues, consider seeing a therapist. They can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms for your worries and stress. Getting these things off your mind may help you feel calmer, which can help you go to bed with a peaceful mind. Talking through these issues with a professional could help other parts of your life as well.
9. Consider a Sleep Study or Medication
A sleep study could help you and your doctor determine if you have a biological issue interfering with your sleep. You may also want to consider taking sleep medications. These drugs can help you fall asleep in less time and stay asleep for a longer duration. Be sure to tell your doctor about any supplements, over-the-counter or other medications or drugs you’re taking. Your doctor will likely start you with a low dose for a short time in order to see if it helps reset your circadian rhythm. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may also help you sleep at night. Sleep medications may cause unwanted side effects, such as sleepwalking or daytime drowsiness. In some people, these medications can potentially increase the risk of self-harm. If you experience any side effects from a sleep medication or sleep supplement, report them to your doctor right away.
Getting enough sleep each night is crucial to having a rewarding and productive day. The nights you get poor sleep can negatively impact your day and your health. And while sleep medications and over-the-counter sleep aids can provide a quick fix to poor sleep, the methods presented in this article are all things you can begin to implement in your life to get a good night’s rest.