By: Broadry, National Lifestyle Content Desk
If you are looking for a good night’s sleep, you aren’t alone. Turns out, many of us are desperate for some shut-eye. Even the social media platform Pinterest reports that searches for “sleep optimization” is up 116% from last year.
While the amount of sleep each person needs varies, the American Sleep Association (ASA) reports that most adults could use 7 to 8 hours each night. Pregnant women and teens often require more.
Good sleep makes us feel good. Plus, it’s part of survival and a requirement for our body and mind to function at its best. Missing out can easily result in sluggishness, and lack of energy — while those with severe sleep deprivation may experience impaired memory, mood swings, and other side effects.
But those of us who simply want to doze off faster or a little longer, is there anything that can help? Maybe so.
Start a Sleep Journal
Keeping a record of schedules and behaviors can help us break bad habits that are getting in the way of quality sleep. Want to give it a try? Download the free sleep diary from The Sleep Foundation. Or, try popular sleep apps, like Awoken.
While the exact relationship between sleep and exercise is hard to determine, many doctors encourage aerobic exercise — like a brisk walk or a swim. That’s because studies have shown moderate exercise can help us fall asleep faster, even longer. Avoid exercising before bed, though. This may make it harder to wind down.
Set a Schedule
Maintaining a regular sleep routine can do the trick. If you can, go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time. It might work. And, try ditching naps. Dozing off for a catnap during the day may actually decrease our “sleep debt” and prevent early sleep onset.
Easier said than done, but stress can certainly make falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult. To reduce stress, try a yoga class or meditation.
Avoid Things That Keep Us Awake
Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol typically make us stay awake longer. Harsh lights, TV, and electronics can also cause trouble. Also, if that clock or smartphone is driving you bonkers, keep it out of sight.
Consider Weighted Blanket
Research is still underway regarding the potential benefits of using a weighted blanket — some experts say the pressure of the blanket can encourage relaxation. Our editor recently tried a Purple + Gravity weighted blanket and did remark about having a better night’s sleep.
Track Sleep Patterns
There are a variety of new wearable devices designed to track sleep performance. Whoop, for example, monitors all four sleep stages: slow wave sleep (SWS), REM, light, and awake — and offers recommendations, like when to go to bed — and when to wake up based on your personal data.
Use a Quality Mattress and Foundation
A quality mattress can undoubtedly make you more comfortable. And, if you’ve had a mattress for over eight years — it’s time for a new one.
For suggestions, we recommend Consumer Reports along with keeping tabs on the latest technology advancements for sleep mattresses and foundations. Mattress preferences range widely, so it’s best to explore options in person, if possible. Look to objective customer satisfaction rankings — like J.D. Power– as part of your decision as well.
And don’t forget about a quality pillow. The National Sleep Foundation says the right pillow can dramatically improve sleep — especially for those with back pain, sleep apnea, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Finally, we all have a cruddy night’s sleep here and there. So, don’t get too down. And, if you feel like something else may be going on with your sleep health, talk with your doctor.