Trouble Sleeping? Tips on How to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep
Sleep is often one of the most overlooked aspects of our lives. Sure, we all know that not getting enough of those precious Zzzz can make us grumpy but a lack of sleep can significantly affect us in more ways than we may realize. Studies show that a lack of sleep affects daily functioning, mood, physical health, concentration and memory, and much more. One in three of us suffers from poor sleep practices as a result of stress, computers and other technology, and negative work environments. Specifically, poor sleep has been linked to people who come home from work feeling blamed.
Now, how much sleep do we need? On average, eight hours a night is the recommended amount. However, each person is unique and may require more or less than 8 hours to be have a healthy amount of sleep per night. The common rule of thumb to find out your particular sleep needs is to identify the days when you find yourself really needing a nap. If you are having that thought in the afternoon, you have likely not gotten your ideal number of hours of sleep.
Of course, getting those eight hours of sleep is easier said than done. For some, not enough sleep can be caused by certain disorders such as sleep apnea. But more often than not, poor pre-bedtime habits cause the lack of recommended sleep. To help provide some guidance on how to both fall asleep and break those habits, here are some of the best tips and tricks.
- Decrease your screen time before bed. It is recommended to not look at screens at least an hour before you fall asleep. Dr. Bobbi Hopkins, medical director of the Sleep Center at Johns Hopkins explains that the blue light (artificial blue wavelengths) emitted from screens can significantly disrupt sleep cycles as well as one’s ability to fall asleep in the first place.
- Reduce exposure to blue light. If not seeing a screen an hour or so before bed is not an option for you, then try taking away the blue light to help mitigate some of the negative effects that screentime has on your sleep. For your computer, try downloading the software f.lux. This works for both Macs and PCs and automatically converts your screen from blue, artificial light to amber, warmer tones simultaneously as the sun goes down in your time zone. You can also change it manually to become warmer earlier or later if you want. This helps your body gradually prepare for sleep mode even if you do use a screen.
- Use smells to your advantage. Aromatherapy has been extremely helpful for those with sleep problems. Buying a small diffuser for aromatherapy oils is a small cost for a big benefit. Specifically, the scent of lavender has been seen to help with relaxation and sleep. If that’s not your style, many shops (including online) have a plethora of made-for-sleep aromatherapy blends that will surely help you doze off.
- Use sounds to your advantage. Whether you need to drown out the busy city street outside your window or noisy neighbors or you cannot stand total silence, investing in a white noise machine is the move. With a variety of sounds and wavelengths, you can have high pitch white noise or noises that sound like ocean waves to lull you to sleep.
- Work out earlier in the day. Working out earlier in the day has been linked to better sleep. Whereas the increase in energy and endorphins at night can create restlessness.
- Stick to a schedule. Making a habit of these bedtime routines is the safest way to ensure you get your sleep. Research shows it takes about 30 days to form a habit. Try setting a time every night where you will “unplug” and stop looking at screens. Then set an additional time for when you would like to be in bed. Setting these boundaries helps encourage us to get things done more quickly to so we can maintain this schedule and will allow this healthier, bedtime routine truly become, a routine.