It seems like there is a new study every week reinforcing the idea that getting the right amount of sleep is as important to our long term health as eating right and exercising. But just like sticking to your diet when faced with your favorite dessert can be difficult, many of us are quick to skip sleep when the number of to-do items on our list requires more than the time we have in our day. To complicate matters, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2011 Sleep Poll, 87% of us experience one or more sleep problems several nights a week.
So what can you do to get the sleep you need? Here are seven steps that will help you get a good night sleep tonight and every night.
1. Give Yourself a Bedtime
I know that most of us left bedtimes behind with our teddy bears and bath toys, but it is an important part of getting enough sleep every night. Going to bed at the same time each night helps your body know what to expect and can help keep your circadian rhythm in synch.
2. Regularly Rise and Shine
Just like having a consistent bedtime is an important tool you can use to manage your internal sleep clock and keep you sleeping as much as you need to, waking up at the same time everyday matters too. Consistency is the key. Pick a time that works and get up at that time every day, even on the weekends.
3. Manage Your Debt
While some people may have sleepless nights because of their finances, this debt refers to your sleep debt. There will always be times that for one reason or another you lose a few hours sleep here and there. The important thing is to manage that debt and pay it off as quickly as you can without letting it accumulate and impact your health.
4. Take a Lesson from Nursery School
Napping isn’t just for toddlers anymore. Using naps to supplement your regular sleep can be a valuable tool in managing your overall sleep cycle. This is also one of the ways you can pay-off your sleep debt. The next time you miss a few hours sleep, don’t sleep in on Saturday and jeopardize your whole sleep schedule to catch-up, get up at the regular time and use a well placed afternoon nap instead.
5. Create a Sleep Sanctuary
Although bedrooms were originally small and scarce and reserved for sleeping, our modern sleep sanctuaries have been annexed for a whole host of other activities. People work, eat, talk, exercise, play video games, and surf the internet in their bedroom which sends conflicting messages to your body about when you are there to sleep and when you are there for other things. Save your bedroom for sleeping and sex and you ensure you get more sleep in the long run.
6. Don’t Get Distracted
Since you are now preserving your bedroom as a sleep sanctuary, make sure it is sleep friendly. Remove common sources of distraction like exercise equipment, televisions, and computers. Provide lighting that is warm and inviting and not too bright as bright light is one of things that tells your body it is time to wake up, not go to sleep. Stifle sounds, unless you need noise while you are sleeping, in which case you should invest in a white noise machine and forego televisions and radios.
7. Relaxing Rituals
Put together a bedtime ritual that helps you relax, let go of your day, and prepare your mind and body to go to sleep. Things like yoga, meditation, guided relaxation, or a warm bath are all excellent additions to a bedtime routine that leaves your mind calm and your body ready to slip off to sleep.
Since 2002, Valley Sleep Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has provided Arizona with diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for patients. Our Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists are experienced and knowledgeable physicians who provide expert advice on sleep and sleep-related disorders. We accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare. For additional information about how we might be able to help you, please contact Lauri Leadley at 480-830-3900.
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- Insomnia and Your Life (valleysleepcenter.com)