Just like eating and breathing, sleep is a necessary function that we may take for granted. And just like responses to eating and breathing, our body tells us when we don’t get enough sleep - we feel drowsy, hungrier, and may be more irritable. A lack of sleep can alter how our entire body functions and can even contribute to serious mental health conditions, like depression and schizophrenia.
While everyone’s body is different, it’s good to aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. However, this is often easier said than done.
Here are a few tips for getting more shut-eye:
Regular aerobic activity every day, like brisk walking and biking, helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.
Maintain a regular sleep-and-wake schedule
Set a regular bedtime, and wake up at the same time every day.
Reduce Screen Time Before Bed
People who stare at light-emitting TV, computer, smart phone or iPad screens up to an hour before bed are stimulating their brain for wakefulness instead of sleep. This results in lower-quality slumber and a disrupted sleep schedule.
Meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can counter anxiety and racing thoughts. Learn more here.
Cut down on caffeine
Caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it! Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake.
Avoid heavy meals before bedtime.
Eating and/or drinking too much may keep you up.
Talk to your doctor.
If you’ve tried all or most of these tips and still toss and turn most nights, it’s a good idea to talk with your physician. You might have a sleep disorder, like insomnia and/or sleep apnea.