One in three Americans struggles with difficulty falling asleep. Before trying either an over-the-counter or prescription medication, there are more natural things you can change to try to get you back to bed.
Our ability to fall asleep is affected by many things:
-the time of the day
-the things we eat
-our level of activity
Our brain takes in these signals to know when it’s time to fall asleep. If the right cues are missing, our brain can have trouble knowing that it’s time to rest. For people having trouble falling asleep, the first step is to clean and organize their “going to sleep” ritual. This is also called “sleep hygiene.” When you clean your sleeping ritual, you get rid of all the things that are well known to interfere with normal sleep and try to replace them with others that can improve your ability to fall asleep.
Here are some key things to avoid:
Large meals before bed
Strenuous exercise before bed
Watching television while in bed
Late naps in the day
Coffee, tea or alcohol in the hours prior to sleeping
Use your bed only for sleeping or having sexual relations. This will allow your mind to relate the experience of lying down with sleeping. If you are in bed and cannot sleep, get up! Instead of lying in bed awake, do some light activities until you think you are ready to try again.
Here are some keys to good sleep:
Always go to bed at the same time.
Create the darkest and quietest environment possible.
Improve the comfort of your mattress with a mattress pad if it is not to your liking.
Take a hot bath or shower before lying down.
And finally, stress is an important part of sleep hygiene. Everyday stress in life or work can damage your ability to fall asleep. You can help deal with stress by performing aerobic exercise like running, biking or even brisk walking, but remember to avoid it in the hours before your sleep ritual begins.
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