Sleep plays a critical role in everyday function, from making decisions to interacting with people. You may know that getting a good night’s sleep can help you feel better about life, but did you know that not getting enough sleep is linked to physical and mental problems over time? In 2015, the National Sleep Foundation updated its sleep recommendations based on age. Adults up to age 65 need between seven and nine hours a night, and it drops to about seven or eight hours for older adults. If you’re not getting restful sleep, then here are five ways to improve your slumber.
#1 – Eat Well and Exercise
Diet, meaning how and what you eat, along with regular physical activity can impact the quality of your sleep. Nutrient-dense foods will help you feel better, which will help you sleep better because your brain and body are getting the stuff they need to function properly. Likewise, exercising and being more active will give your body the right amount of impact to relax. Drink plenty of water, and stop eating a couple of hours before bed so that digestion doesn’t keep you up at night.
#2 – Maintain a Good Sleep Schedule
You may be tempted to sleep in on the days when you don’t work, but disrupting your sleep schedule could affect the quality of your sleep. How much you sleep is just as important as the quality of that sleep. It should take you less than about 15 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re staying awake longer, then do something to relax and try again. Maintain your bedtime and waketime every day of the week, even on holidays and vacations.
#3 – Stick with a Routine
New parents are familiar with establishing bedtime routines for their little ones, but setting a routine can be beneficial no matter how old you are. Research shows that screen time isn’t an effective way to wind down before bed. Instead, try pursuing other relaxing activities, like taking a warm bath or listening to soothing music. If you do the same thing each night before bed, your brain will get the message that it’s time to sleep, which will ease the transition into quality slumber.
#4 – Get Comfortable
You don’t need to spend a fortune on a mattress to get good sleep, but choose a bed and bed linens that make you comfortable. “Cool, dark and quiet” is the mantra of ideal conditions for high-quality resting. Using a white noise machine may help you to drown out external sounds that are keeping you up. If you work overnight shifts, then invest in room-darkening blinds to preserve your body’s internal clock. Getting comfortable will help you relax, which will help you shut down for the night.
#5 – Ditch the Distractions
Today’s world is a busy one, and it can be tempting to check one more email or send one more text before hitting the hay. Studies suggest that screen time can be bad for sleep, and too many distractions can interfere with the brain’s ability to wind down. Turn off electronic devices – including phones, computers and televisions – well ahead of bedtime to preserve the quality of your sleep. You may also find that shutting down your electronics periodically has a positive effect on your mental health as well.