Tips for Getting a Better Night's Sleep
Adequate shut-eye is vital to our health and yet many Americans are not getting enough of it. According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, chronic sleep loss can hinder learning and memory function, lead to weight gain and high blood pressure, and can even hurt your body’s immune functions.
Getting your sleep pattern back on track requires some effort, starting with creating a relaxing environment and following some best practices at night. Below is a list of tips from the National Sleep Foundation, using the five senses as a guide.
- For a light snack before bed, try whole wheat crackers with a small amount of peanut butter or cereal with milk.
- Stay away from fatty, fried, or spicy foods before bed as they will upset your stomach, leading to an uncomfortable sleep.
- Alcohol and caffeine are stimulants that can last in the body for many hours; it is best to stop consuming these beverages before mid-afternoon.
- Inhaling lavender before bed has shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure and will help relax your body. If you shower at night, try bathing with a lavender body wash.
- Oils and candles can release a pleasing smell of your preference during your night time routine.
- Vacuuming your house and room regularly will help keep allergens from floating in the air and keeping your windows closed during pollen season will reduce your exposure to irritating allergens.
- White noise is a constant ambient sound that can help people fall asleep and mask other noise activity around them. Try going to bed with a fan, an air purifier, or using a soothing sounds app on your phone.
- Turn the TV off before bed to minimize noise.
- Sunlight keeps our bodies on a natural 24-hour schedule and can still be detected by the retina when the eyes are closed, so we naturally sleep better when the sun is down. If you can wake up well rested by the sun after sleeping 7-9 hours then there is no need for curtains that block the sun completely from peeking in. If not, darkening shades will keep your body in sleep mode until your body is ready to awaken.
- When using the bathroom at night, use a nightlight rather than the bright room light.
- Research shows that your room temperature should be around 65 degrees for the best night’s sleep.
- Dressing in breathable pajamas and taking a shower before bed can help keep your body temperature down during the night.
- More than three quarters of people say that a comfortable feel of sheets and bedding is most important in a good night’s sleep. Some even say that getting into a made bed helps them sleep better.
For more information on sleep health, visit sleep.org.