Tossing and turning in bed, staring at the ceiling, and counting endless sheep. Sound familiar? Many Americans have trouble falling asleep. In fact, one-third of Americans say they lie awake at least a few nights each week. What’s this attributed to? One possible explanation could be a sleep disorder. According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million adults in the US have a sleep disorder. Some of the most common sleep disorders like insomnia, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, or stress-related causes like anxiety and depression, relate to having problems falling asleep.
But sometimes having trouble falling asleep is linked to our lifestyle habits. We’ll explore some possible reasons for this common sleep problem and give practical remedies and tips on how to improve it!
Set your schedule
Have you ever stayed up late working on an assignment? Or gone to bed early because you were tired? Our lives are filled with busy schedules and keeping a consistent sleep schedule can be hard. This can leave us feeling tired throughout the week. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule can help improve alertness and reduce sleepiness throughout the day. Help your body and mind get the full benefits of a solid night’s rest. Try picking a time you can consistently go to bed and stick to it!
If you need help sticking to a consistent schedule, download the SleepScore app.
You can set your bed and wake time, and get reminders to encourage you to get to bed on time. And in the morning, use the SleepScore smart alarm to wake you during the most optimal time in your sleep!
Cut the caffeine
Caffeine is a sneaky stimulant that often interferes with sleep. Studies have shown that drinking a caffeinated beverage within 6 hours of sleep can significantly reduce your sleep duration and disrupt your sleep schedule. Reducing the amount of caffeine 6-8 hours before bed or using a caffeine alternative can help you fall asleep easier and have fewer interruptions throughout the night. An easy trick to remember is to cut off your caffeine by 2pm!
Learning how to build healthy habits like avoiding a late afternoon coffee can be challenging. By downloading the free SleepScore app, you can embark on customized challenges designed to help you make smart daytime decisions for a better night’s rest.
Limit light exposure
It’s easy to zone out in front of the TV or your smartphone after a day of work, but exposing yourself to blue light in the evening can disturb your sleep cycle. Blue light doesn’t actually appear blue, but it is a specific wavelength your brain associates with being awake. Exposure suppresses the release of melatonin – a hormone that tells your brain it’s time to sleep. Reducing blue light exposure at night can help your body wind down after a long day of work. If you’re one to stay up on your phone or computer late into the evening, you might want to try some blue light-blocking glasses.
Some studies indicate that general exercise can positively impact how long it takes you to fall asleep, how long you sleep, and how many times you wake up during the night. Exercise has also shown positive sleep effects in older individuals and people with insomnia. However, most experts recommend not exercising too close to bed. Exercising too late in the day can leave you over stimulated when trying to fall asleep. Of course, physique, body type, weight, and other factors will affect how your body will respond to exercise. In general, exercise is a good thing. Just keep an eye on the time between when you hit the gym and when you hit the pillow!
Relax and unwind
Are your stressful thoughts keeping you from precious sleep? Research has shown that stress and worries at bedtime are linked to moderately impaired sleep. Stress is also significantly higher following a night of poor sleep. It’s a tough cycle to escape, and this accumulation of stress over time might play a part in developing sleep problems. Understanding your stress is a good first step to building healthy habits for winding down before sleep. Before going to bed, try meditating or taking a shower or bath to relax your body and calm your mind. A calming bedtime routine can help you de-stress and fall asleep easier.
Give these ideas a try and track your sleep using the free SleepScore App. You’ll learn what healthy habits work best for you, and what impacts your sleep the most. Knowing about your sleep is the first step to improving it!
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