According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Sleep Association, 35 percent of American adults are not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep each night and as many as 70 million adults suffer from a sleep disorder. Between increasing demands of work and family, poor health habits and numerous other factors, it's no wonder sleep is taking a back seat.
But poor sleep doesn't just mean a few more afternoon naps. Lack of sleep can lead to serious health concerns, as well as workplace injuries, traffic accidents, mental and emotional distress, and low productivity.
Fortunately, if you find yourself struggling to sleep multiple nights a week, there are solutions. Use these five tips to reset your bedtime routine and promote better sleep every night.
1. Cool down
Have you ever noticed you sleep better during the winter? It's not a fluke. Cool temperatures (and longer hours of darkness), create the perfect environment for a good night's sleep.
In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping a bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees. This is because your body naturally cools down to initiate slumber, so keeping your room cool can help the process. Bedroom temperatures much higher or lower than this range can cause restlessness and affect the quality of your sleep.
2. Snuggle up
Perhaps the best part of sleeping in a cool environment is snuggling down under the covers. There are many theories about why sleeping under covers is so enjoyable. One idea is that a heavy layer of blankets mimics the feeling of being held and signals the body to release serotonin and melatonin, which relieve stress and promote sleep.
Whatever the reason, with the temperature turned low, you'll want a nice warm blanket (or three) to keep you covered through the night. Choose a warm quilt or ultra soft cover like a Minky Couture blanket and you'll be sleeping like a baby in no time.
3. Exercise regularly
Preparing for a good night's sleep doesn't stop at the bedroom. Your daytime habits are important too. Mounting evidence shows that regular physical activity can improve quality of sleep and reduce drowsiness during the day. One study published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity found that with just 150 minutes of exercise per week (the national guideline), sleep quality improved by as much as 65 percent.
While exercise alone may not solve all your sleeping woes, including physical activity as part of your daily habits can lead to a significant improvement in your sleeping patterns. Be sure to consult with your physician before starting a new exercise regimen. Even if you can't do 150 minutes of activity per week right away, work to gradually increase your physical activity. Every bit counts.
4. Promote relaxation
Sometimes your body just needs a sign that it's time to go to bed. Whether bright lights, busy family life or general stress and anxiety are keeping you on high alert, take some time each night before bed to relax physically and mentally.
There are a few different things you can do before bedtime to promote a better sleep:
- listen to calming music
- practice deep breathing
Try a few methods to see what works best for you. Once you find a technique you like, be sure to make it a routine. By creating these sleeping rituals at the same time each night, you can further signal to your body that it's time to wind down.
5. Manage your screen habits
We live in a world surrounded by screens. And while technology brings unquestionable benefits, it can also have adverse effects on our health and well-being. Whether your kryptonite is watching your favorite Netflix show before bed or scrolling through Instagram on your phone before rolling over to sleep, your screen habits could be preventing a good night's rest.
Sleep.org names three primary ways technology disrupts sleep:
- The blue light from screens suppresses melatonin (a hormone that controls your body's sleeping cycle).
- Using technology keeps your mind alert and engaged.
- Notifications can wake you up through the night.
Luckily, this is a pretty easy fix. Make a habit of turning off your electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Don't check your phone, watch just one more episode of "Grey's Anatomy" or read from your tablet. By cutting off your screen time, you can help transition your mind and body into sleep mode.
Try these simple tips and curl up under a warm, soft Minky Couture blanket for the best sleep you've ever experienced.
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