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Better You - naps

Do you struggle to fall asleep at night?

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sleep-60092403.jpgDo you struggle to fall asleep at night? Do you find yourself watching episode after episode on Netflix? If so, you’re not alone. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, Americans average 6.8 hours of sleep each night. The recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours a night, which means that 4 out of every 10 Americans is getting less than the recommended amount of sleep each night. Whether your problem is getting to bed on time or falling asleep once you’re in bed, we’ve come up with a few tips to help you maximize your zzz’s.

  1. Set a routine and stick to it! Going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning, even on weekends, can help your body’s circadian rhythm stay constant, which can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. However, if you find yourself unable to fall asleep quickly at your appointed time, get up and do a relaxing activity such as yoga or reading, and then try again.
  2. Create a pre-bedtime ritual. Tell your body it’s time for bed by relaxing yourself. Activities could include warm baths or showers, reading a book, listening to relaxing music, or practicing yoga or other meditation. These types of activities can help to ease the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness, helping you fall asleep faster. As a part of this ritual, eliminate electronic devices from the hour or so before you go to bed. The light from the screen stimulates your brain, tricking it into thinking it’s day time instead of night. Charge your phone away from your bed, and avoid those late night Netflix shows. Instead, watch them right after dinner, and then spend an hour or so reading or participating in your usual pre-bedtime ritual.
  3. Exercise daily. Physical activity in your day can help you sleep better, including falling asleep faster and deeper sleep. However, exercising too close to your bedtime can make you too awake to fall asleep. Avoid this by exercising earlier in the day.
  4. Cut out the caffeine- at least in the afternoon. If you start your day with coffee or need a Diet Coke to make it through work, try to avoid that later in the day. Consuming caffeine too close to your bedtime can also make it harder for you to fall asleep, since it stays in your system longer than you think.
  5. If you enjoy your daily naps, make sure they’re no longer than 20-30 minutes. Letting naps go longer than 30 minutes mean that your body is in deep sleep, and you’ll wake up feeling more tired than when you went to sleep. The optimal power nap is in the early afternoon, and is between 20-30 minutes, which allows you to wake up feeling refreshed.

There are many other tips for better sleep, including switching out your mattress and pillow and sleep therapy. It varies between individuals, so try several things to see what works best for you. Let us know what you find in the comments below!

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