10 Effective Ways to Help You Sleep

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Healthy sleep is vital to our success and ideal health. However, a recent study shows that more than one-third of U.S. adults are not getting enough sleep.

According to a report by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, adults between the ages of 18 and 60 need at least seven hours of sleep per night on a regular basis.
People who are regularly sleeping less than 7 hours are susceptible to poor health conditions, like depression, weight gain and obesity and hypertension.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports they found that more than 34 percent of close to 450,000 respondents reported getting less than the required 7 hours. The CDC added that the lack of a sufficient amount of sleep is linked to a variety of ailments — including increased risk for diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and more.

Sleeping less than 7 hours is associated to a greater risk of accidents, impaired judgment and performance, increased pain, and impaired immune functions, as well.

There’s no question about it. Healthy sleep is essential for greater overall health. It also helps in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships – at work and at home.

Ways to Help You Go to Sleep

Here are some useful and effective recommendations to help you fall asleep.

1.)  Sleeping schedule  Go to bed and wake up the same time every day — even on weekends, holidays, and days off. Be consistent when going to bed. Consistency not only helps to promote better sleep, it also reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

2.)  Wear socks — Studies have shown that cold feet can directly interfere with a person’s ability to fall asleep. Wearing a pair of socks can help you fall asleep more quickly. You can also place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your cold feet to provide comfort and help you fall asleep.

3.) Turn off electronic devices — Computers, tablets, and cell phones emit artificial blue light. The artificial blue light interferes with the pineal gland in your brain. This gland releases a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin actually reduces our alertness and aids in making falling asleep more inviting.

4.)  Adjust temperature — A cool room actually helps a person sleep better, according a number of studies. Research shows that the ideal temperature for sleeping ranges from 60 to 67 degrees. According to H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University, “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature — the temperature your brain is trying to achieve — goes down. Think of it as the internal thermostat.” If it’s too cold, or too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point. That slight drop in body temperature helps in bringing on sleep. Dr. Heller added, “If you are in a cooler — rather than too warm room — it is easier for that to happen.”

5.)  Watch what you eat — Our dietary patterns affect our sleep, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. A team of researchers of this new study concluded, “Low fiber and high saturated fat and sugar intake is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals.” The main finding was that “dietary quality influenced sleep quality.” Sugar intake disrupted sleep, whereas, foods rich in fiber helped participants of the study obtain deep, slow-wave sleep.

6.)  Read a book or magazine — Reading an actual book or magazine in a comfortable chair (not in bed) send signals to the brain that reading is comparable to going to bed. Reading a chapter or two — until you feel drowsy – is quite effective in helping people fall asleep.

7.)  Take a bath or shower — A warm, relaxing bath before retiring to bed can make you tired and help you fall asleep. A shower can work, as well; however, it’s slightly less effective. Associate professor at New York University School of Medicine, Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., suggested to Health that soaking in a bathtub for 20 or 30 minutes — two hours before going to bed – could help most people fall asleep. Dr. Walsleben added, “If you raise your temperature a degree or two with a bath, the steeper drop at bedtime is more likely to put you in a deep sleep.”

8.)  Get up — The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that if you have not been able to fall asleep after 20 minutes, you should get out of bed. Try a quiet activity and don’t turn on the lights. Also, avoid television or checking your email. Eventually, you’ll start feeling drowsy, and you’ll be ready to try falling asleep again.

9.)  Dim the lights — Studies continue to show that lights before going to bed disrupt sleep. It’s recommended to shut down bright lights early in the evening. Bright lights interfere with our body’s melatonin – suppressing the secretion of this main hormone that controls our sleep-wake cycle. Keep the bedroom dark before retiring to bed.

10.) Keep pen and paper by your bed — Many of us go over the day’s events when we go to bed. We also start thinking about tomorrow’s anticipated activities while lying in our beds. Our brains mull over all of these activities and events and keep us awake at night. Before going to bed, jot down what’s on your mind. This way, you won’t worry about forgetting anything and allows you to clear your thoughts so you can get the amount of rest you need.

Healthy Sleeping Requirements

An estimated 83.6 million U.S. adults are sleeping less than the recommended 7 hours.

Good quality, healthy sleeping patterns requires regularity and appropriate timing. It’s also vital to avoid sleeping disturbances or disorders. A clear understanding of our body’s biological and psychological mechanisms improves our understanding of how sleeping has an effect on our health.

According to the CDC, evaluation and monitoring of sleeping patterns might be an important function of health care professionals, including specialists.

Keeping a 10-day sleeping journal or diary about your sleep times, including napping — as well as behaviors that affect your sleep, like alcohol use, exercise and caffeine consumption — might be helpful before discussing sleep problems with a doctor.

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George Zapo, CPH
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George Zapo, CPH is certified in Public Health Promotion & Education. George focuses on writing informative articles promoting healthy behavior and lifestyles. Read more of George's articles at his website: http://georgezapo.com.