Approximately 40% of Americans don’t get an adequate night’s sleep on work days. Getting too few hours of sleep is not only detrimental to your impending Monday morning, but also carries negative long-term effects. Some of these include hampering weight-loss efforts, increasing your risk of heart disease, increasing your chance of depression, and hindering your memory-making abilities, among others. The field of sleep research is still relatively nascent and there is still much to learn about the full effects of getting adequate shut-eye. However, the consensus is out that sleep is a healthy and vital investment of your time, and something that you need to prioritize every day. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, keep on reading to find out how to get to The Land of Dreams faster.
Cool It Down – The optimal bedroom temperature for getting adequate, comfortable sleep is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Your body’s temperature naturally fluctuates slightly during the day. This pattern is linked to your natural sleep cycle. When you’re tired, your body temperature drops slightly. As you’re waking up in the morning, your body temperature experiences a small spike. That’s why if it’s too hot in the bedroom, you feel like you’re tossing and turning all night. Current research also indicates that one important factor in insomnia sufferers might be their body’s inability to properly regulate their body temperatures. Play around with your thermostat and fan to find out which temperature is most comfortable for you.
Unplug – Turn off your mobile devices, get off of your computers, and turn off the television an hour before you go to sleep. The unnatural presence of blue wavelengths after sundown can throw off your circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural internal clock. While all light exposure suppresses melatonin secretion, a hormone that plays a role in the circadian rhythm, blue light does so more powerfully. Blue wavelength during the daytime is beneficial, since it helps boost mood, reaction times, and attention, but this is not something that you want to be activated right before you go to sleep. Consider reading, listening to calming music, or trying some bed time yoga instead.
Trade in the nightcap for a nightgown– The research is out, and the overwhelming conclusion is that alcohol consumption close to bedtime, though it does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker, reduces the quality of sleep. There is a positive association between the number of drinks and sleep quality. REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep, is the last of the five different sleep patterns. The first four stages are categorized as non-REM sleep patterns. REM sleep occurs about an hour and a half after you first fall asleep, and is actually the most neurologically and physically active phase of sleep. Researchers found a dose-dependent REM suppression that resulted from alcohol consumption close to the bedtime. This is why after a night of excessive imbibing, even after sleeping for a long period of time, you still feel exhausted.
Associate your Bed with Sleep – The bedroom should be reserved for two things, and two things only: sex and sleep. Don’t do work in your bed, watch TV, or eat in bed. The more closely your body associates your bed with sleep, the easier it will be for you to drift off at night.
Invest Wisely -If you make an investment in anything in your life, try and prioritize your mattress. You spend about 1/3 of your life sleeping. Think about the amount of effort you put into caring for yourself the other two-thirds of the day. You buy healthy food, you avoid soda, you exercise and maintain healthy relationships with your friends and family. However, many of us neglect to take care of ourselves during those vital 8 hours when we’re sleeping. A cheap and poorly made mattress can wreak havoc on your back and bleed into how well you perform during the day. Investing in a mattress now will help save you money on healthcare bills down the road.