If you have sleep issues, you aren’t alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of U.S. adults have regular problems sleeping and get fewer than six hours a night. The result: tiredness, fatigue, irritability, increased stress, weight gain, error-prone judgement, increased danger when driving or doing other important tasks, and so on.
The holidays can add complications, with crazy work hours and added stressors. Take steps to fix your sleep schedule now and you’ll find improved mental health along with physical benefits.
- Create a Regular Sleep Routine
The first tip is the most natural and the most involved. Go to bed at the same time every night, and wind down for 30 minutes prior by turning off all electronics and reading a book or writing in a journal. Brush your teeth, take a warm shower or bath, and drink something warm. Make sure everything is locked up and lights are off when you crawl into bed, with a glass of water by your bedside in case it is needed, so you don’t have to get up once you lie down. Usually after a week, your body catches on that this routine of slowing down means bedtime and the habit will be well formed after a month.
- Make Sure Your Environment is Sleep Friendly
Some people have trouble sleeping because of light, sound, or temperature. Add a small heater or fan to warm or cool your space, use heavy curtains or drapes to block light, and consider a white noise machine to provide a comforting drone that will mask outside noises.
- Quit Caffeine by 2:00 p.m.
Caffeine after 2 in the afternoon can increase your chances of sleeplessness, so switch to juice or water, or at least use decaffeinated coffee or soda.
- Exercise Early, not Late
Regular exercise can help you sleep, but if done directly before bed your body may be too wound up. Try to exercise in the morning or at least 2 hours before bed.
- Don’t Drink Before Bed
Alcohol can make you sleepy but it won’t last and bouncing blood sugar can wake you up later. Enjoy a glass of wine with dinner and skip the pre-bed cocktail.
- Ask for Help
If none of these tips help, it may be time to ask your doctor about sleep aids, there are non-addictive sleep aids that can help you get a good night’s sleep and can be used in conjunction with deliberate forming of sleep habits to ease the transition. Don’t be ashamed, remember, you are simply the 1 in 3 people who can’t sleep!