With 50-70 million US adults dealing with a sleep disorder, it's a painfully common trial to be lying awake at night and struggling. It may seem as if you're alone when you do — but you're not, and there is a solution.
Sleep is a fickle thing that can be affected by a wide variety of factors. Even something you did far earlier in the day can be what's impacting your ability to sleep now.
From physical problems posing an issue to dilemmas that are all in the brain, sleep is easily scared off.
If you're struggling to get in a night of peaceful sleep, try these tips to suss out the cause and eliminate what's keeping a good night's sleep at bay.
Increase and Decrease Light Exposure at Appropriate Times
The brain bases a lot of its circadian rhythm on light exposure. During times when it experiences a lot of light, it considers that waking time and equally, when the lights dim at a certain time every day, it considers that sleep time.
If you spend all day in a dark room at the office or at home, your brain will subconsciously stop relying on night and day to establish when it's sleepy.
As much as possible, ensure you're getting plenty of light throughout the day — because when you take it away at night, the brain will then associate that change with sleep.
That's why when it's approaching bedtime, it's time to turn the lights off and keep any source of light warm and soft.
Don't Use Electronic Devices Right Before Bed
It's tempting to use electronic devices at night and in bed — but one of the most important sleep tips is to avoid doing this.
Electronic devices wake up our brains for a variety of reasons. One is the light — having a blue, cool light in your face at night isn't going to make the brain associate the world around you with night time!
Social media and other things on a screen, however, stimulate the brain in other ways. Many of us find things to be anxious about on social media, and even if it's not anxiety keeping us awake, it's the constant interaction.
The healthiest thing you can do is set a time to turn your phone on 'do not disturb' mode, close your laptop, and read a book half an hour before bed. You'll be amazed at the difference it can make.
Use a White Noise Machine
White noise reduces the surprise of hearing sudden loud background noise. It works by playing a constant noise such as a fan, rain, or the ocean, so if any noises are heard out on the street or elsewhere on the home, they won't jolt you awake.
Many people have different preferences when it comes to white noise, and there are many sounds that work. Even if you don't have a white noise machine, there are apps you can download on your phone (but don't be staring at it right before bed!), or you can create your own.
A fan or an air purifier, for example, can work wonders.
Take a Bath or Shower
Because we naturally cool down in the evening, body temperature is a big indicator for the body that it's time to sleep. We can regulate this by taking a warm bath or shower an hour or two before bed, so the body will naturally start to cool afterward and the brain will associate this with sleep.
After your bath or shower, make sure you're comfortable before bed. A satin pillowcase can help keep your hair soft and smooth throughout the night, and you should ensure your bedsheets are clean and comfortable too.
Don't give that sleep any chance to be disturbed!
Reduce Daytime Napping (Eliminate It, If Possible)
Many people don't think that napping will disrupt a sleep schedule if it's earlier in the day, but this simply isn't true.
Naps can improve alertness for up to ten hours. While this is awesome if you nap at 3 pm with the intention of being awake until midnight or later, this can throw off someone who naps in the afternoon and has to be in bed early.
Make sure when you nap that you have a long stretch of being awake ahead of you. Although it can be tempting to come home from work in the evening and doze on the couch for a few minutes, it can be disastrous when it comes to falling asleep later.
See a Doctor If Peaceful Sleep Continuously Evades You
If you've tried everything and still can't figure out how to sleep better, there's a chance there might just be something wrong and you need a doctor's help.
There are a plethora of sleep disorders out there, and they're almost impossible to diagnose on your own. Try the home remedies first, see if you can improve your sleep on your own but if you can't, there's professional help to be had.
Many people live without ever getting a good night's sleep, but that miserable existence doesn't have to be you.
A Good Night's Sleep Is Possible!
A peaceful sleep comes naturally to some and for others, it seems impossible. It's within reach for anyone though, if you're willing to make a few changes to your life.
Adjust your sleep schedule by using light, make yourself comfortable in the evening, and take care of yourself, and you might find that you're far more capable of a good night's sleep than you initially thought!
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