Have you ever been really tired, but unable to fall asleep? Or maybe you have awakened several times during the night, even though you still feel exhausted and really, truly, need those extra hours before getting up? Well, I certainly have. And it sucks.
Often, sleep disturbances occur because of stress or illness. The reasons we find it hard to fall asleep may be because we’ve had a rough day/week/month at work, or maybe there are stressors in our personal life, or we might even have an illness or unhealthy habits.
The National Sleep Foundation says that young adults (ages 18-25) and adults of ages 26 to 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you are a teenager (14-17 years old) that number is higher – eight to ten hours each night.
In general, a person should be able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of laying down, but we all know that this can vary. And if you are thinking that it takes too long to fall asleep while trying to, it will heighten anxiety levels and make it even more difficult to fall sleep. If you have a hard time sleeping, it is a better idea to get out of bed until you are feeling sleepy (preferably stay someplace dark, though – and to avoid electronic screens).
Anyone else ever feel stressed over not getting enough sleep, which you know will ruin your next day? Yes? I’m with you.
But even if we do fall asleep fast, that doesn’t mean that our sleep is “good”. It can be a sign that we have been sleep-deprived. This is not good – we seriously need to get more sleep!
So why is sleep important and how can you sleep better?
Sleep is correlated to our memory, learning abilities, general health, mood and stamina. If we are not sleeping well, we will notice these negative effects. Poor sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. It can also negatively affect our mental sharpness.
To get better sleep, we should have a sleep-friendly environment: the bedroom should be dark and cool. Not cool as in cool furniture, but cool in temperature. Just so we are clear. And we should not use the bed for other things than sleep and sex. So, no scrolling, guys! That means avoiding the blue light from phones/computers/tablets – but not only while in bed. We should stop using these electronics at least in the hour before trying to sleep. And please, do not drink caffeine for six hours before bedtime! It seriously messes us up. Even if we are able to sleep through it, the sleep quality will not be that good. Oh yes, I do speak from experience. I have made this mistake so that you don’t have to.
Here’s a checklist to help you sleep better:
- Keep the bedroom temperature cool
- Declutter the bedroom to make it a nicer environment
- Do not use the bed for anything other than sleep and sex
- Stop using electronics an hour before it is time for bed
- Keep the bedroom dark by having light-blocking curtains
- Do not drink caffeine in the final hours before going to sleep
- Stay off alcohol, lots of sugar and fast food
- Keep the bedroom quiet from noises (earplugs can be a superb idea!)
- Do not eat in the last couple of hours before sleeping time
- Regularly clean the bed sheets
- Stop thinking about sleep when you are trying to sleep, it is better to think of something completely different (I know, easier said than done, but still so important)
On a personal note, for me it works to take different supplements too (like magnesium, probiotics, vitamin D, omega 3 and vitamin B). Maybe you could look in to that yourself.
Well, there you have it. Do you have any other suggestions on how to sleep better? Please share in the comments!
Front photo by Charlotte Lundqvist Photography
Note: If you have had sleeping issues for a longer period of time, it might be time to see your doctor or therapist.