Sleep provides an opportunity for your body to rest and process information by creating new learning and memory pathways in the brain. It’s also when your brain regulates the release of certain hormones. Not getting enough sleep, particularly over a long period of time, can inhibit your body’s ability to perform these functions.
According to a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, a two-hour reduction in sleep per night for one week was associated with a significant increase in sleepiness and a reduction in psychomotor performance. Chronic sleep deprivation, characterized by severe symptoms over an extended period of time, has been associated with other overall health issues including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal conditions, prostate problems, diabetes, and weight gain.
So, how can you fall asleep faster and get the Z’s you need? Follow these tips to improve your nighttime routine and start sleeping like a baby!
Set a sleep schedule and stick to it.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This will help program the body to feel sleepy when it’s time for bed and to wake up refreshed in the morning.
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
Wind down before bedtime with a calming activity such as reading or listening to soothing music. Just be sure to keep the tunes calm and the volume low. A warm bath can also help you relax and ease the transition into deeper sleep.
Make your bedroom a sanctuary.
Keep your bedroom quiet and cool. You should also keep it free from distractions, such as computers and work. And use your bed for sleep only, so your brain associates it with sleeping.
Dim the lights in the evening and sleep in a dark room.
The dim light will tell your body that bedtime is approaching. Make sure your bedroom will stay dark until you get enough sleep or sleep with a mask over your eyes that blocks light.
That way, you can avoid bright light when using the bathroom at night.
Turn your clock away from the bed.
This will help you avoid becoming anxious about how long it takes to fall asleep.
Avoid using tobacco or caffeinated products at night. It’s best to avoid tobacco completely because it causes users to sleep lightly and wake up too early in the morning.
Stick to light meals and beverages before bed. A large meal before bedtime can cause indigestion, and drinking too many fluids at night can cause frequent awakenings to use the bathroom.
Try a supplement. Herbal supplements such as chamomile and valerian are sometimes used to treat occasional sleeplessness. These products are available in the supplement portion of the sleep aid aisle. (Note: They are not approved by the FDA.)
Check your meds. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if any medicines you’re taking may be disrupting your sleep.
Avoid late naps. They can make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you must nap, keep it to under an hour and take it before 3:00 PM.
Get out of bed. If you’re not sleepy, get out of bed and do something relaxing in dim light. Return to bed only when you are sleepy.
Try an OTC medication. Luckily, for people with occasional sleeplessness, there are many safe and effective sleep medicines available over-the-counter such as ZzzQuil Liquid or ZzzQuil LiquiCaps. Both help you get the sleep you need.