Do you ever feel like you're running on fumes and that your rest at night is never enough? On average, the CDC recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. If you're like many Americans, you may lay in bed for at least 7 hours, but are you actually getting that required sleep duration? As we know, there is a big difference between 7 hours of good sleep and 7 hours of interrupted tossing and turning. A study by the CDC conducted in 2020 found that for the state of Tennessee specifically, 34.7-36.9% of adults reported short sleep duration. It's not uncommon for our patients to report poor sleep when they visit our offices. While it is sometimes the case that there are underlying causes for habitually poor sleep, often some simple lifestyle changes can provide the boost you need to start sleeping deeper and waking more rested. These healthy sleep habits are called "sleep hygiene."
Step 1: Set a Schedule
When you were a child, did you have a regular bedtime? Often, we lose this habit in teenage years and into adulthood. It may seem silly to set a bedtime for yourself in your adult years, but it is an easy way to get your body used to getting ready for sleep at the same time each night. Once the habit is established, you may come to find your body naturally winding down as it approaches your bedtime, making it easier to fall asleep and rest better.
Step 2: Avoid Caffeine Later in the Day
Caffeine, in its variety of forms, can negatively impact not only your ability to fall asleep, but also your ability to stay asleep. Start by decreasing your caffeine intake in the afternoons and evenings, perhaps switching that iced coffee for a green tea. Over time, you can begin cutting out caffeine later in the day all together so that you are better prepared for a good night's sleep.
Step 3: Avoid Napping
This step may seem obvious. How often have you woken up from a nap knowing you slept so long that falling asleep at night was going to be difficult? Naps, though they are tempting, are often unhelpful for producing quality sleep overnight.
Step 4: Use your Bed only for Sleep
Humans, by and large, are creatures of habit. Making your bed a space solely for sleep encourages your body to associate that space as a restful place. Your body creates its own habit of knowing where it is best able to rest. This does, however, mean that the opposite is also true. Laying in bed on your phone, reading in bed, etc. can create the association for your body that your bed is a place for those activities instead of rest.
Step 5: Make your Bedroom Comfortable
Ensure that your sleep space is as comfortable for you as possible. If you need a very dark space to sleep, try using an eye mask or blackout curtains. Some people enjoy having a little background noise, in which case try turning on a fan or using a white noise machine. Many people find the use of weighted blankets to be an added comfort as they sleep, especially for those with anxiety. Whatever the solution, the goal is to make your space comfortable so you are better prepared for sleep.
Step 6: Turn Off Your Screens
We live in a day and age that this one is difficult. Often its a screen that is one of the last things we see before we settle into bed. Sometimes, we even use our phone in bed or have a TV in our rooms that we watch in bed. The blue light emitted by phones, TVs, and other screens can throw off the body's natural rhythm of sleep and make it that much more difficult to get to sleep. It is recommended to switch to screen-less activities an hour before going to bed.
These tips for sleep hygiene can greatly increase your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, providing you with a more restful night. Increased rest leads to increased energy during waking hours. Feeling more energized during the day can aid concentration levels as well as improve mental health symptoms. Sleep is a vital part of life, and with these tips you'll be on your way to improving your sleep quality.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are sometimes underlying conditions that interfere with sleep. Always feel free to discuss your sleep habits with our providers when you visit. We can help you determine if some lifestyle changes, like those mentioned above, would be helpful or if perhaps more needs to be explored.
If you're struggling with your sleep and would like to discuss ways to improve your night's rest, our online scheduling is now open at all three locations. Visit our website, select your desired location, and book an appointment today!