Getting a better night’s sleep may not be as hard as you think. A few simple strategies can greatly improve the quality and duration of your sleep:
1. Avoid too much of a good thing.
As inviting as your Sleep Number® bed might be, excessively long periods spent in bed lead to fragmented and shallow sleep.
2. Sleep on a schedule.
A regular bed time and wake-up time will strengthen your internal clock and helps establish consistent, regular times of sleep onset. Follow a nighttime routine — same time, same order! A regular routine cues your body that it’s bedtime.
3. Exercise regularly.
Studies indicate regular, daily exercise deepens sleep. However, exercising right before bedtime is not recommended because it prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep as your body temperature lowers and your body relaxes after exercising.
A temperature of 65-67 degrees is considered ideal. Excessively warm rooms (above 75 degrees) disturb sleep (less REM sleep, more awakenings) and excessively cold rooms do not induce sleep.
5. Eat right. Hunger tends to disturb sleep.
Therefore, a light snack before bed may help you sleep. That said, heavy meals right before bedtime tend to interfere with sleep.
6. Avoid excessive use of sleeping medications.
An occasional sleeping pill may help now and again if nothing else works. But, chronic use may promote dependency that can exacerbate sleeping difficulties and recent clinical research shows that while sleeping medications make you sleep, the quality of that sleep is very poor. This can result in morning feelings of grogginess, and starts an endless cycle of drug use to fall asleep and wake up (with caffeine).
7. Limit caffeine intake.
Caffeine has a half-life of 7 hours. Caffeine in the evening disturbs sleep—even in those who feel it does not! (Cola, chocolate, coffee, tea, etc.)
8. Limit alcohol intake.
While alcohol may help people fall asleep more easily, research shows people do not drop into the important REM sleep when alcohol is in their system. Additionally, your sleep is disrupted when the effects wear off.
9. Never go to bed angry.
Taking work or worry to bed is a sure way to lose sleep. Make time to clear your mind before you get under the covers. Journaling can help.
10. Mask excessive, occasional loud noises.
Airports, trains or highways can produce loud noises that disturb sleep, even in people who are not awakened and do not remember the disruption the next morning. Sound insulation or adding ambient noise, such as a quiet fan, or white noise machine can help.
11. Quit smoking or chewing tobacco, if possible.
Chronic use of tobacco disturbs sleep. At the very least, avoid tobacco before bed because it has a half life of one-two hours. Smoking 1-2 hours before going to bed could result in craving nicotine at bedtime – which disturbs sleep early in the sleep cycles.
12. Sleep in comfort.
Choose an adjustable mattress that contours to your unique body, encourages more proper spinal support, provides dual comfort zones and reduces pressure points.
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