The ever-elusive goal for many millennials is to improve sleep. The problem is, lack of sleep can cause huge issues in your waking world. From sleep drunkenness to heart issues, not getting enough sleep is a big issue. In fact, according to the new study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), both young adults and adults should be clocking in between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but getting the right amount of sleep is a tough endeavor. Here are 5 tried and true techniques that improve sleep to help you doze off to “Lala land”.
Ditch the electronics
It’s no secret that electronics rule the world. That said, they should not rule during bedtime. According to the NSF, even our small electronic devices emit sufficient light to miscue the brain and promote wakefulness. The light of electronic devices, tricks the brain into staying awake. While giving up your gadgets may seem like a blasphemous idea, helping improve sleep is important. In order to give yourself a fighting chance to get the best sleep possible, turn off the devices an hour before you hit the sack. Your mind will thank you.
Set Yourself a Consistent Bedtime
All too many of us go to sleep purely based on what lies ahead the next day. Need to be up early? This means going to bed early and figuring out how to sleep early. You have time to have a lie in? You might stay up later. But our bodies love routine. You should do what you can to maintain a consistent bedtime, as this will get your body into the habit of winding down at the same time each night.
Get your cardio on
Exercise has a ton of benefits to your health and getting great sleep happens to be one of them. “Exercise is great for sleep. For the millions of people who want better sleep, exercise may help,” explains David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. Exercise does not have to be incredibly vigorous in the beginning. Start out with a 10-minute walk or something that is manageable with your schedule. In addition, those endorphins will help in the anxiety department. Feeling good and getting better sleep in one process? Sounds like a good trade off. Ramp up your daily activity gradually and the sleep is sure to follow.
When in doubt, write it out
Dealing with stress is a common denominator in everyone’s life. Whether it’s in the form of an exam, student loans, or the workforce, stress is inevitable. Stress is also another cause for insomnia or bad sleep. While you cannot stop it from happening, stress is manageable. Journaling is a great tool. Putting your frustrations to paper acts as a cathartic release of letting your anxiety go. A study in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, led by psychology professor Nancy Digdon, found that writing a gratitude journal for 15 minutes around bedtime led students to less stress and helped them improve sleep. If stress is hindering your sleep, grab a journal and jot down what you’re feeling. It will leave you feeling unburdened which will help you in the sleep department.
Say no to a cup of Joe
We get it; caffeine is the bee’s knees. After all, the world runs on caffeine. However, caffeine before bed is not a good idea. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, you should abstain from drinking caffeinated beverages at least 6 hours before bed. While it may be tempting to meet a friend for coffee after work, it will undoubtedly affect your ability to fall asleep at night. Opt for a non-caffeinated drink instead so that you won’t have to sacrifice your zzz’s.
Life can be a little crazy and unpredictable, but it shouldn’t get in the way of your pursuit of sleep. Keeping a daily routine is one of the best methods to ensure a good night’s sleep. Our bodies need consistency. In fact, NSF advices to stick with the same bedtime and wake up time, even on weekends. This will help your body regulate falling asleep and remain asleep without waking up through the night. Staying organized will also help with anxiety, which happens to cause problems with sleep as well. Bottom line, being proactive by having a routine has benefits in more ways than one.
Getting the right amount of sleep is a subject that is not going away anytime soon. According to the CDC, they’ve labeled sleep deprivation as a national epidemic as 50-70 million Americans are afflicted. More importantly, not getting enough sleep has several negative implications. Anxiety, heart issues, and even death can result in chronic sleep deprivation. There are options that you can implement in your everyday life to improve sleep. By staying off of electronics, exercising regularly, keeping a journal, abstaining from caffeine at night, and staying organized, you can positively impact the quality of sleep you are receiving. Start with one modification at a time, and apply more as you grow comfortable with the changes. In the end, the extra sleep and health improvements are worth the sacrifice.
Update: 10/12/17- Extensive Guide on How To Sleep Better now available from our friends at ASleepyWolf.com