Want to lose weight, have more energy, improve your mood and boost your health? Get more quality sleep, suggest science and medical experts. Research has shown that most Americans would be happier, healthier and safer if they were to sleep an extra 60 to 90 minutes more each night. Even if you think you’re carving out eight hours in bed, there could be other factors from your day that impact your ability to fall or stay asleep. Read on to learn about nine factors that could be interfering with your ability to get a great night’s sleep and check out our tips to fix these habits in no time. Check out this 10-minute trick to help you fall asleep faster.
You’ve had those evenings when you’re lying awake in bed and couldn’t unwind from the hectic day you had, or you were feeling anxious about the responsibilities that lie ahead for you. You’re not alone. An American Psychological Association Stress in America™ survey showed that stress may be interfering with Americans’ sleep. Some people’s anxiety and tension could lead to insomnia; for others, their stress and sleep problems could be due to not winding down from the day before going to bed.
Find healthy ways to handle pressure to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Start a daily meditation practice to help clear your mind of stressful thoughts or try journaling your thoughts and worries. Make time for relaxing activities before bed, like a warm bath, gentle music, sipping decaf tea, and reading. You’ll prep your body and mind for better sleep.
If you went for a late-night run to clear your head, you might be too wound up to fall asleep at your usual bedtime. That’s because intense workouts get your heart rate up and increase your body temperature, but your body needs to cool off in order to start falling asleep. Even though you might feel tired, your body is too warm to allow you to fall asleep.
While regular exercise is a great habit for your health and exercise can help you sleep better, make sure you give yourself a few hours after your workout to cool down. Some research shows that late-night workouts don’t impact subjects’ sleep, quality but it’s quite individual. If you find yourself tossing and turning after an evening cardio session, try to move that workout to earlier in the day.
By now you’ve heard that hot flashes and night sweats can interfere with your sleep, but the hormone fluctuations and even depression women experience as they go through menopause can also impact sleep. A recent study followed 776 women ages 45-54 and found that their reported sleep problems changed as the women transitioned to different stages of menopause. Sleep problems can vary across menopause stages, yet they are consistently correlated with hot flashes and depression, according to the study findings.
Talk to your doctor about your sleep problems as soon as you begin experiencing them. He or she can determine if prescriptions for hormone therapy, sleep issues, or even depression might help you ease through this transition period.
You might say that you sleep better when your dog or cat is cuddling next to you all night long, but chances are you’re waking up throughout the night if they move around a lot, or if they take up too much room in the bed. While it was previously thought that pets in the bedroom contributed to poor sleep habits, a recent study from the Mayo Clinic discovered that people who have one dog sleeping in their bedroom maintained good sleep efficiency, but subjects whose dogs slept on the floor tended to sleep a bit better than those whose pups were in the bed with them. If you have a wiggly pet that moves around a lot during the night, you’ll be more likely to wake up during the night.
Analyze how you’re sleeping with your pet in the bed versus when he or she isn’t next to you. Trying letting your pet sleep on the floor next to you — or in his or her own room or crate — and see if you wake up feeling better rested.
Research on co-sleeping finds that it can cause stress for the entire family and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not bed-sharing during infancy because of its association with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). One Iowa State University professor, who wrote a book on co-sleeping found that among parents who co-sleep, many would prefer not to sleep with their children. Oftentimes, the children start off in their own beds and then crawl into the parents’ bed, pushing one of the parents out or kicking them all night. Sounds like a recipe for poor sleep!
Create a bedtime routine for your children and make sure they know that they aren’t allowed to come into your bed at night. Be firm and walk your child back to their bedroom at night.
When you sleep with a snorer, you’re both probably not sleeping very soundly. About 45 percent of normal adults snore occasionally and 25 percent are habitual snorers, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery website. While you may be annoyed at your snoring bed partner, and try earplugs or pillows over your head, their snoring could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a health condition that can lead to serious, long-term health problems if left untreated.
Try to get your snoring partner to sleep on their side — and place a pillow behind them to keep them there. A healthy lifestyle and weight loss can help reduce snoring, as does avoiding alcohol for at least four hours and not eating heavy meals for three hours before bed. Have your partner get checked out by their doctor to see what he or she recommends.
There are some ideal conditions for a great night’s sleep, and if a streetlight or neighbor’s security light is streaming through your windowpane, that could interfere with your body’s ability to produce enough of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which helps you sleep. That’s because when our body senses light, it thinks it’s morning and time to wake up, or time to stop producing melatonin.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleep environment is dark, cool, and quiet. If you wake up too early when the sun rises and shines into your bedroom, or there’s an outside light that’s keeping you awake, consider buying blackout shades or curtains to create your ideal dark environment for sleep.
If you ever went to bed soon after a heavy, fatty, or large meal and experienced heartburn or indigestion once you lay down, you understand the toll that meal can take on your sleep—and possibly even experienced nocturnal GERD (gastroesophageal acid reflux). A carb-rich meal can make you feel sleepy at first as your body concentrates on digesting it, but you may experience insulin fluctuations later that could cause you to wake up, according to research.
Ever hear that saying, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”? The adage might hold up when it comes to eating in a way that helps you sleep better at night, with larger meals earlier in the day and smaller ones as you approach bedtime. Give yourself a few hours between eating dinner and going to bed if you can. If you need to eat a late dinner before bed, keep portions in check. Some people who have nocturnal GERD find that elevating the head of their beds can be effective in rapidly clearing both acid and non-acid reflux, helping to improve their sleep.
A glass or two of wine or liquor can make you feel relaxed, even sleepy after a long day. But having too much alcohol can cause you to wake up later and you might have trouble falling back asleep. That’s because your body is going through withdrawal while you sleep, causing disruptions later.
It’s okay to enjoy an alcoholic beverage with dinner, but give your body a few hours to process it before you hit the hay. It’s a good idea to drink alcohol with meals and drink plenty of water afterward to help flush it from your system.
Read the full article on Doctor Oz.
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