In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to push sleep down to the bottom of your priority list. But we’re here to tell you: Don’t! The benefits of sleep are profound. Not only does having enough sleep give you energy and help you focus, sleep also helps your brain clear itself of metabolic waste each night.1
Keep reading for symptoms of poor sleep, how to get enough sleep and simple tips to improve sleep quality.
Signs you may not be getting enough sleep
Do any of these symptoms feel familiar?
- Hitting the snooze button
- Feeling moody or anxious after waking up
- Not feeling alert shortly after waking up
- Feeling groggy or foggy-headed throughout the day
- Slogging through the day with little to no energy
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Unable to stay awake later in the day
- Dreading going to bed
- Falling asleep immediately at night
If you answered yes, you may not be getting enough sleep.
What’s the ideal amount of sleep?
The average recommended sleep for adults is seven to nine hours, but everyone has different needs.2 If you wake up and feel fully rested after more or less sleep, then you’re probably getting the right amount. Ideally, you should be able to fall asleep within 15-20 minutes after settling down. But if you’re knocked out within seconds of your head hitting the pillow, you might not be getting enough sleep.
If you’re not sleeping enough, try moving up your bedtime by 15 minutes. On the other hand, if you’re sleeping too much, try going to bed 15 minutes later. Continue adjusting your timing in 15-minute increments until you’re dialed in. The goal is to go to bed and to get up at the same time every day.
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up after a full night’s rest, it’s probably time to take a look at ways to help improve your sleep. Many advances have been made in the field of sleep science, also called “sleep hygiene.”
Here are seven ways to help improve your snoozing habits
1. Establish a consistent sleep prep routine
Your body likes routines so the more you can be consistent with your evening routine, the easier sleep may be. To figure out what your ultimate routine is, use a sleep journal.
- For a week or two, write down pre-bed eating and drinking habits and activities.
- Then, when you wake up each morning, write down details about your sleep like what time you laid down in bed, what time you think you fell asleep, if you remember waking up during the night, what time you woke up and how restful you felt your sleep was.
- Review your logs to uncover a good sleep routine including the foods and drinks, activities and bedtimes that help or hinder your sleep.
Many people find these general prep tips helpful:
- Put away electronics at least thirty minutes before going to sleep.3 If you can’t resist looking at your phone or tablet before bed, make sure to turn on night-time mode to reduce the amount of blue light emitted by the screen.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages, smoking and vaping late at night.
- Stop drinking caffeinated beverages by early afternoon.
- Get plenty of physical activity, but avoid heavy exercise right before bed.
- Do not try to force yourself to sleep. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and try again a little later.
2. Use your bedroom for sleeping and romance only
Your bedroom should be a retreat for sleep. Don’t work or watch TV in the bedroom. Declutter the room and don’t use it as a spare storage space.
3. Set the mood
Adjust the temperature, lighting and sound levels to meet your needs. A cool, dark, quiet room lends itself to a good night’s rest. If you and your sleeping partner have different sleeping preferences, though, try using blackout drapes, eye masks, ear plugs, portable fans and sound machines to accommodate both of you.
4. Soothe your spirit
Relax, unwind and treat yourself each night. Wear comfortable pajamas made with moisture-wicking fabrics and use eucalyptus or lavender pillow sprays and calming shower gels or body lotions.
5. Check your position
To avoid waking up with a backache or crick in your neck, use knee and body pillows to support yourself and maintain proper spinal alignment.
6. Don’t skimp on sheets
Since you sleep about one-third of your day, and the way you sleep sets the tone for your entire day, you deserve the highest-quality sheets you can afford. Sheets made with soft, breathable fabric such as bamboo, eucalyptus and other non-synthetic materials wick moisture from the body and keep you cool at night.
7. Invest in your mattress
While this is the most expensive tip, a proper mattress is key in getting good sleep. If you’re able to invest in a new mattress, head to a dedicated store, where a specialist can help you find your most comfortable sleeping position. If you prefer to shop online, many mattress retailers provide support hotlines or quizzes to help you choose the mattress right for you.
- Select a mattress with the proper firmness to keep your neck and spine aligned.
- If you get hot at night, some newer mattresses and pillows are topped with a layer of cooling gel.
- If you or your partner snores, consider getting an adjustable bed that raises the head of the mattress (or place risers under the frame legs).
Keep in mind that if you’re pregnant or ill, throw the sleep timing guidelines out the window and sleep as much as you need.
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