There’s nothing better than a good night of sleep. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Sleep can sometimes be elusive, even when you’re exhausted. The National Sleep Foundation has marked March 12-19 as National Sleep Awareness Week, and it’s a great time to review some best practices, tips, and tricks for achieving a restful snooze.
The beginning of Sleep Awareness Week coincides with the start of daylight-saving time when millions of Americans turn the clock forward an hour and lose what may be a precious hour of sleep.
If you find yourself tossing and turning when you’re trying to power down for the night, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about a third of American adults struggle to get seven or more hours of sleep at night, and that can be a serious problem. Lack of sleep has been linked to health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.
The Mayo Clinic has developed some great tips on how to get a better night’s sleep:
- Stick to a schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle. If you find that you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and move away from your bed. You can listen to music or engage in a relaxing activity, then go back to bed when you’re tired.
- Pay attention to your stomach. You don’t want to go to bed hungry, but you also don’t want to get in a bed stuffed from a large meal. Try to put at least two hours between a full meal and bedtime.
- Create the Right Environment. Keep your room dark and cool. The ideal temperature for sleeping is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Sleep Foundation. It is also recommended to avoid extended use of screens before going to bed. Things like blackout curtains, earplugs, and a soothing fan can work wonders.
- Take it easy on daytime naps. An afternoon snooze can certainly be refreshing, but too much sleep during the day can set you back when you try to settle in for the night.
- Get moving. Bumping up your physical activity can put your body in a better position to fall asleep easily at night.
- Put your mind at ease. Going to bed stressed isn’t going to give you a great start if you have trouble falling asleep. Taking some time to meditate, writing down a note of what’s on your mind and setting it aside, or just organizing and prioritizing the tasks you’re facing can put you in a better position so you can call it a night.
If sleep issues persist, it may be time to talk to your doctor. The National Sleep Foundation has guidelines for when it may be time to seek help. Talk with your doctor if you experience the following:
- Regular difficulties getting to sleep and staying asleep
- Constant and excessive tiredness after getting seven hours of sleep the night before
- The need to take naps during the day to feel rested
- Falling asleep while driving, watching TV, or reading
- A sleep partner says they hear you gasp loudly during the night
- If you sleepwalk or have abnormal movements during the night
We know that sleep is essential. But getting a great night of sleep can do wonders for living a happier, healthier life.
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