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Your lifestyle, your quirk
You need more sleep. Recent studies have suggested that lack of sleep can contribute to health problems like obesity and early death, so it’s crucial to get your seven to eight hours of sleep per night. This may seem impossible if you have trouble falling asleep, but these tips should help you to get your full night’s rest every night. Simple things like establishing a routine and keeping electronics out of your room can make a big difference in the quality of your rest time.
Sticking to a routine is important. Your body works in cycles, so by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (including weekends and holidays), your sleep-wake cycle will work at its peak and provide you with better sleep. However, if it takes more than 15 minutes to fall asleep, you should get out of bed and find a relaxing activity to do until you feel tired. Stressing about not falling asleep could make it harder to actually fall asleep, so the relaxing activity will distract and calm you.
When timing out your sleep, try to avoid scheduling naps over 30 minutes or any later than the mid-afternoon, as they can prevent sleep at night. Timing shouldn’t be the only part of your sleep routine. The Mayo Clinic suggests creating a bedtime ritual that allows you to relax before hitting the sack. Wind down by dimming the lights and reading a book, listening to soft music, or taking a warm bath. These calming activities “can promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Watching television or checking your computer or phone are not relaxing activities, as they stimulate your brain too much. They are lit with blue-based light, which is known to disrupt circadian rhythms and prevent sleep. Other culprits include backlit eReaders, iPads, and laptops. Try to avoid using these items for at least an hour before bed. Other lights that can prevent sleep are digital clocks and the lights from devices like phones and laptops charging. Charge devices in another room and turn clocks away from the bed.
In addition to relaxing activities, you can try relaxation techniques for 20 minutes before bed to get into a restful, relaxed state. Visualizing a relaxing setting can help. The more vivid the visualization, the more detail, and the more senses you involve in the visualization, the more effective it will be. For example, you can visualize a beach, imagine the feeling of the sea breeze on your skin, the smell of the ocean, the view of the sunset, the warmth of the sun, the grit of the sand on your toes, and so on. Practicing yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can also help. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing each muscle group in your body, starting with your face, then allowing the muscles to relax completely as if they were in sleeping mode.
Aromatherapy can help you fall asleep, sleep longer, and feel more refreshed upon waking. While it seems to work better on women, anyone may benefit from using lavender. You can put a sachet of dried lavender under your pillow or take a warm bath with a few drops of lavender oil.
If these tips don’t work and you continue to have trouble sleeping, you may have to see a doctor. Under proper doctor supervision, prescription sleeping aids may be used to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Your doctor may be able to suggest some non-pharmaceutical procedures, like acupuncture, to aid sleep.
Tonight, try to get a good night’s sleep by unplugging, relaxing, and creating a new bedtime routine. Your health will thank you.