The U.S. National Institutes of Health estimate that at least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleep issues. Moreover, the CDC recently concluded in their first nationwide study on self-reported healthy sleep duration that more than one-third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. I am one of those people.
For as long as I can remember, I have had trouble getting consistent restful sleep. Throughout childhood, I was very much “that child” who was never tired come bedtime — except I really wasn’t and would contentedly occupy myself until I finally fell asleep, whenever that happened to be. As a teenager, my dad would say goodnight to me when he went to bed at midnight every night and I would stay up playing on the computer or doing whatever else teenage me was up to those days. Most recently, due to the fact that I work from home, and have throughout the majority of my adult life, not only does the sporadic bout of insomnia still hit, but establishing and keeping up with a normal sleep schedule is something I consistently struggle with.
Aside from chemical imbalances and sleep disorders, there are a number of reasons why people typically experience sleeplessness. Stress is a major factor for many, as well as the amount of caffeine and/or alcohol you may consume regularly. Not to be forgotten are those that have unfortunately chosen incorrect mattresses on which to sleep because they didn’t read which would be the best mattress for them to get a full night’s sleep. If you are one of the millions of sleep-deprived Americans out there craving some quality shut-eye, here are five things you can do to achieve a more consistent and restful sleep.
1. Make Sleep a Priority
In December 2010, Arianna Huffington spoke at TED Women about the power of a good night’s sleep. After collapsing from exhaustion in 2007 while working to build her wildly popular news and opinion website, The Huffington Post, she began the journey of rediscovering the value of sleep.
Somewhere along the way, we as a culture have come to believe that in order to be successful and accomplish the things we set out to do, we must sleep less. In actuality, however, the key to a more productive, inspired, and joyful life is sleep.
Researchers have found connections between lack of sleep and high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, depression, poor memory, and an overall shortened lifespan. Not getting enough sleep is literally killing us, and it’s imperative that we make sleep a priority in our lives. Instead of staying up those few extra hours into the night to finish some task you’ve fooled yourself into thinking you need to get done right now, look at it with fresh eyes in the morning — your well-being and that task you’ve finished better than you would have on no sleep will thank you.
2. Implement a Bedtime Routine
You may have a bedtime routine for your child, but it’s just as important to have one for yourself. Winding down from a particularly hectic or stressful day can be challenging, and it’s common to be surprised by how late it has gotten when you’ve just begun to gather yourself again. Giving yourself a bedtime (yes, really!) and dedicating the hour before bed to preparing your mind and body for sleep can significantly improve the amount and quality of the rest you get.
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Try taking a hot bath, playing some of your favorite calming music, old-fashioned of (decaffeinated) tea, doing gentle upper-body stretches or meditation, reading a good old fashioned paper book (we’ll cover why in the next point), knitting, or any other relaxing activity you enjoy.
3. Power Down the Gadgets
Our gadgets have significantly improved our work and social lives, but they are wreaking havoc on our sleep.
Studies have shown that the blue light emitted by the screens of our cell phones, tablets, computers, and televisions promote wakefulness by restraining the production of melatonin — the natural hormone that helps control sleep and wake cycles — making it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. Additionally, whether we’re answering a few last-minute emails, chatting with a friend, scrolling through social media, or watching a movie, our brains are being engaged and tricked into thinking we need to stay awake longer, ultimately robbing us of the precious hours of sleep we could be getting. After being connected to one device or another all day, our brains need rest by disconnecting from technology for at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Ideally, your bedroom should be a device-free zone. Even if you’re not using your cell phone before bed, it can still disrupt your sleep. Many people keep their phones with them in bed so that their alarm can wake them in the morning, but if your alarm sound is on, your phone can also alert you to texts, emails, calls, and the myriad of notifications you receive. These chirps, dings, and rings will wake you up, or at the very least, subconsciously disrupt your REM sleep.
4. Limit Heavy Meals and Caffeine Before Bed
Food is energy, and eating a large meal before bed will only give your body energy it doesn’t need, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it is when we stock up on the fuel we need — in the form of larger, protein-rich meals — in order to be energized and alert throughout the day. Studies show that people who are sleep deprived tend to eat more fatty foods, simple carbohydrates, and fewer vegetables. Making poor nutrition choices and eating late into the night could lead to sleeplessness. Additionally, caffeine and sugar are stimulants and their effects on the body last for several hours. Because of this, your mid-afternoon jolt could be hindering your ability to fall asleep at night, so it’s best to limit the stimulants you are giving your body and to be mindful of the time when you’re thinking about whether or not you should pour yourself that second cup of coffee.
5. Supplement Your Sleep
As mentioned above, melatonin is a natural hormone produced in the brain that helps control sleep and wake cycles by reacting to darkness and light. When it’s dark outside, your melatonin levels rise and last for about 12 hours, making you feel tired, go to sleep, and stay asleep throughout the night. But sometimes our hormones can get a little out of whack and lead to occasional sleeplessness. When this happens, a melatonin supplement may help balance the melatonin levels in your body so that you can fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed.
Natrol Melatonin is a drug-free sleep aid that promotes healthy sleep patterns and a more relaxed night’s sleep. It supports combating sleeplessness, jet lag, and annual time changes (like Daylight Savings Time coming up on Sunday). It also assists in establishing normal sleeping patterns, which I have so desperately needed in my life.
Natrol Melatonin is available in two varieties:
Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve: a 5mg (also available in 10mg) fast dissolve tablet that dissolves on the tongue quickly — nothing to swallow, no water needed — so you can take it anytime, anywhere.
Natrol Melatonin Advanced Sleep: a 10mg 2-layer controlled release tablet that gives you the initial 5mg dosage to help you fall asleep fast and then releases the remaining 5mg dosage over time to help you sleep through the night.
Key Benefits of Natrol Melatonin:
- 100% drug-free and non-habit forming
- Supports an overall better sleep
- Helps regulate healthy sleeping patterns
- Wake up refreshed in the morning — no more “sleep hangovers”
- 100% vegetarian
Want to give Natrol Melatonin a try and start waking up on the right side of the bed? Snag this $2 off coupon! Natrol is available at mass-market retailers, drug stores, online retailers, and natural food and supplement stores. Look for the purple bottle.
— Woman Tribune (@WomanTribune) March 13, 2016
*Natrol Melatonin contains wheat and soy
*This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases