Getting at least seven hours of sleep a night is important to our overall health. Sometimes it’s not easy to get the right amount of rest, partly because we have trouble falling asleep.
Do you find yourself tossing and turning for an hour or more? Does your mind race when it should be shutting down for the night?
Setting up a bedtime routine — one that includes kicking bad habits in the hours before bed — can help you fall asleep faster and get a full night’s sleep.
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7 Essential Steps for Better Rest
1. Go to bed at the same time every night.
Choose a time that is late enough for you to feel sleepy, but early enough for you to get seven or eight hours of sleep before your alarm goes off. Keep the same bedtime as often as possible, even on weekends.
2. Turn off the electronics.
This may be a tough habit to break, but opt for a printed book, an adult coloring book, puzzles, or some other non-electronic activity before bed.
Many studies have found that children who have screen time before bed sleep worse than those without exposure to screens. The same may apply to adults.
One study found that adults who used an e-reader had a harder time falling asleep than adults who read a printed book. The light from our devices may affect our body’s natural sleep/wake cycles making it difficult to go to bed.
3. Save high-impact exercise for early in the day.
Light movement like chores or stretching can help you fall asleep, but raising your heart rate before bed isn’t going to help you nod off.
4. Watch what you eat and drink. Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
Everyone is different when it comes to caffeine’s effect on their sleep. You may have to avoid it after noon if you want to have any hope of falling asleep before midnight. Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it’s also likely to wake you up in the middle of the night.
5. Keep the temperature comfortable.
You want your bedroom at a comfortable temperature to help you settle in and doze.
6. Set aside time to unwind.
Create a bedtime ritual for yourself. Before settling in, stretch into yoga positions, take a bath, or drink a warm glass of milk. These habits help ease the mind and prepare it for rest.
Avoid activities that stimulate the mind in the hours before bedtime, such as paying bills or watching action-packed TV shows.
7. Manage stress.
No matter how hard you try with your bedtime routine, if you’re stressed, you may still struggle to fall asleep. Stress puts you in a damaging cycle, causing you to have poor sleep and, in turn, experience more stress due to fatigue.
Getting better sleep can improve your overall health, but it does mean breaking some bad habits and establishing new, healthier ones.
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About Sleep Medicine
Getting a good night’s sleep is a crucial part of living a healthy life. But that’s a problem for millions of Americans dealing with sleep deprivation. The UPMC Sleep Medicine Center diagnoses and treats numerous sleep conditions or disorders. We also provide help to people suffering from lack of sleep because of other health problems. We recognize a lack of sleep can cause problems during other times of the day, including alertness, memory, and health immunity. We hold sleep studies and lead clinical trials, all in the name of helping you sleep.