Do you have trouble sleeping at night? The National Sleep Foundation has developed the ABCs of good sleep habits so that you can catch more ZZZs.
Lack of sleep is a common problem in the U.S., according to Get Healthy, Stay Healthy. At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders each year.
If you have issues drifting off, the Sleep Foundation offers some tips that will help bring the sandman to you.
Make a schedule: As hard as it might sound, establish both a bedtime and wake-up time to use weekdays and weekends. Often falling asleep is a problem because not having a routine throws off your body’s clock.
Relax: Speaking of routine, practice a relaxing bedtime ritual to take your mind off activities that can stress you out. This could entail deep-breathing exercises. Another method is flexing your toes, which involves laying in bed with your eyes closed and flexing your toes toward your head and holding it for a count of 10 before relaxing the toes, again for a count of 10. Repeat the process 10 times.
Avoid naps: Sure, an afternoon nap may help you get through the day, but it won’t be helpful when you want to get eight hours of sleep in the evening.
Move: Vigorous exercise on a daily basis is best, but even a light workout will improve your sleep.
Find your feng shui: The setting in which you sleep can affect the quality of slumber. Your bedroom should be kept cool, between 60 and 67 degrees, and be free of noise that could keep you up. The room should also be dark. Consider eyeshades, earplugs, or blackout curtains to help set the mood for sleep. “White noise” machines, fans or a humidifier can help you relax and block other, disruptive noises.
Get comfy: How old is your mattress? Does it sag? Your mattress should be supportive and provide comfort. The average life for a mattress is 10 years. Pillows should also be comfortable to give you a good night’s sleep.
Don’t do this: Drinking alcohol or caffeinated liquids, smoking cigarettes and eating heavy meals can disrupt sleep. Try not to eat much in the three hours before you head to bed. If you’re that hungry, try eating a light snack like a piece of cheese or some fruit that won’t prevent you from snoozing.
Turn off, tune out: Other things that shouldn’t be in your bedroom are television sets, computers or cell phones. For some people, using an electronic device can make it hard to fall asleep, because a particular type of light, known as blue light, emanates from the screens of these devices that activate the brain.
Leave: Still can’t sleep? It might be time to go into another room and wind down by reading a book. Or lie down on a couch and see if sleep will come.
If lack of sleep becomes a huge problem, the National Sleep Foundation suggests speaking with your physician or being referred to a sleep professional.