It is estimated that as many as 70 million Americans have trouble sleeping and it is progressively getting worse with the proliferation of gadgets and bad habits. If you think you may be struggling too, ask yourself these questions:
- – Do you have trouble falling asleep?
- – Do you go to sleep easily but wake up repeatedly throughout the night?
- – Do you find it hard to drag yourself out of bed in the morning?
- – Do you or your significant other snore?
- – Do you regularly get less than seven hours of sleep per night?
- – If you answered yes to any of these, then you are not alone.
Sleep Deprivation is Hazardous to Your Health
Healthy sleep is absolutely essential to a brain healthy life. Sleep rejuvenates all the cells in your body, gives brain cells a chance to repair themselves, helps wash away toxins that build up during the day, and activates neuronal connections that might otherwise deteriorate due to inactivity.
Skimping on sleep can affect your health in more ways than you might imagine. When you don’t get enough sleep, you have overall decreased blood flow to your brain, which disrupts thinking, memory, and concentration.
Sleep deprivation has been associated with many health risks, including:
- – Type 2 diabetes
- – Depression
- – Anxiety
- – ADD (worsening of symptoms)
- – Alzheimer’s disease
- – Parkinson’s disease
- – Stroke
- – Psychosis
- – Weight gain
- – Poor lifestyle choices
Strategies for Improving Your Sleep:
Remember that we are all unique individuals and what works for one person may not work for another. Keep trying new techniques until you find something that works.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up (regardless of how much sleep you got the night before) at the same time each day, including on weekends.
Your bedroom should be comfortable.
Control the temperature so that your room isn’t too hot or too cold. Also, keep your room as dark as possible while sleeping.
Create a soothing nighttime routine.
A warm bath, meditation, or massage can help you relax.
Don’t take naps!
This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make if you have trouble sleeping. Daytime naps will make the nighttime sleep cycle disruption worse.
Use sound therapy.
Soothing nature sounds, soft music, wind chimes, white noise makers or even a fan can induce a very peaceful mood and lull you to sleep.
Drink a mixture of warm milk, a teaspoon of vanilla (the real stuff, not imitation), and a few drops of stevia which will increase serotonin in your brain and help you sleep.
Take computers, video games, the TV and cell phones out of your bedroom and turn them off an hour or two before bedtime to allow time to “unwind.” Plus, they emit a type of light that stimulates the brain.
Avoid a full stomach.
Don’t eat for at least two to three hours before going to bed.
This is very beneficial for insomnia. However, don’t do it within four hours of the time you go to sleep as vigorous exercise late in the evening may energize you and keep you awake.
Watch out for stimulants.
Don’t drink any caffeinated beverages and avoid chocolate, nicotine, and alcohol in the late afternoon or evening. Although alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, it actually interrupts sleep.
Move the clock so you can’t see it.
If you wake up in the middle of the night, refrain from looking at the clock. Checking the time can make you feel anxious, which will only make it harder to go back to sleep.
Use the bed only for sleep or sexual activity.
Sexual activity releases many natural hormones, releases muscle tension, and boosts a sense of well-being.
Don’t toss and turn.
If you are unable to fall asleep or return to sleep easily, get up and go to another room to do something relaxing until you feel more tired.