Do you find yourself tossing and turning at night instead of enjoying quality sleep? Many things, from work stress to anxiety to worrying over the little ones can keep you up counting sheep. Many turn to medicinal sleep aids, but can you improve your sleep habits naturally?
Yes, you can. Below are five ways you can improve overall sleep hygiene without even needing to explore sleep medication. Follow these tips to watch your sheep-counting patterns fall from 6000 to 6!
1. Get Out in the Sunlight
When you wake up in the morning, do you head out for a walk or run, or do you bounce from getting the kids’ backpacks ready to your commute, stepping outside only to get to your car? If it’s the latter, your lack of sleep may stem from inadequate sunlight.
Experts recommend getting 30-45 minutes of sunlight each morning without covering your eyes with glasses or visors. If walking or jogging isn’t your bag, no problem! Get out and putter in the garden, walk the family pooch or bike your way to the office when weather proves favorable. Even sitting by a sunny window while you sip your coffee helps get your brain awake — and ready for sleep at the end of the day.
2. Take Some Exercise
If you’re a parent, have you ever tried putting the littles down for a nap without tiring them out first? It was fun, right? How can you expect to sleep soundly if you lie about like a sloth all day long?
Many people sit a lot at work. Nearly 70 percent of Americans claim to hate sitting all day, but over half get up only to get food. We’re not cave dwellers hunting wild bison and mammoth for a meal anymore, so get off the couch and get your blood flowing if you hope to sleep well at night!
3. Stretch Before Bedtime
If you typically sleep on your side, you could cause yourself serious shoulder pain. Sleeping with a pillow between your knees can keep your spine in line, and stretching gently before bed can alleviate aches from sleeping the wrong way. Try lifting your shoulder up toward your ears 10 times on either side if you habitually curl up in fetal position.
4. Cut Back on Caffeine and Booze
Everyone knows a latte before bed can keep you tossing and turning for hours, but certain individuals react with higher sensitivity to caffeine than others. Those with caffeine sensitivity, for example, may experience anxiety and sleeplessness, pounding headaches and physical shakes from even one cuppa.
Many people turn to alcohol in order to get some sleep, and in individuals without sensitivity, one glass does little harm. However, those who are sensitive or who drink to excess (defined as more than one drink daily for women and two for men), may wake up a few hours after going under and find themselves unable to fall back to sleep. Alcohol disrupts the normal sleep cycle.
5. Keep Devices Verboten
Blue light wavelengths keep us alert during daylight hours, but these same lights emitted from televisions, laptops and cell phones can interrupt natural sleep patterns and keep you counting sheep. Create a bedroom oasis free of such devices, or, if you must use your cell phone as your alarm clock, use an app to keep it idle during sleeping hours. Give yourself a break, too — if at all possible, resist the urge to check work-related email when you find sleep elusive.
Sleep Better the Natural Way
Practicing good sleep hygiene can help you get more rest without the need of addictive and potentially dangerous sleep medications. By trying the tips above, you can enjoy a healthy night’s rest and an energized morning.