The Healthy Sleep Habits You Need
to Get Better Sleep Tonight
Sleep is supposed to be a natural process, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! Millions of people struggle with falling or staying asleep at night. A doctor can help you treat severe insomnia, but you may be able to find relief by modifying your habits at home. Read on for the habits you need to set yourself up for a night of restorative sleep.
Habits To Help You Fall Asleep
When you’re stressed or anxious, falling asleep at night can be profoundly challenging. Unfortunately, many mental health conditions can both cause and be exacerbated by poor sleep, so if you’re working with a doctor or psychiatrist, you should consult them about any sleep issues.
If you're planning to complete a detox for drugs or alcohol, or have recently completed one, you can expect to have extra trouble falling asleep. Heavy use of mind-altering substances can decrease your sensitivity to natural sleep/wake cues and interfere with both restorative slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which are essential for good health. In that case, it's even more important to pay attention to habits like:
- Setting an alarm to remind you to stick to a consistent bedtime
- Planning a relaxing, screen-free routine in an hour or two before bed
- Avoiding caffeine or heavy meals in the evening
A consistent, relaxing routine can help you fall asleep by making your sleep/wake cycle more stable and reducing stress to promote relaxation, which is especially helpful for people recovering from a substance use disorder.
Habits To Help You Stay Asleep
For chronic insomniacs, it's frustrating to finally doze off, only to jolt awake a few hours later. There are several reasons you might wake in the middle of the night, but one of the most common is a poor sleep environment. If your sleeping area isn’t dark, cool, and quiet, it’s likely that your rest will be interrupted at some point during the night. Good sleeping environments encourage your body to wind down and produce melatonin, often described as the sleep hormone, so you can rest peacefully. Turning off the TV and setting the thermostat lower can make your sleep more consistent.
If you often wake up unexpectedly, you may benefit from keeping a record of what happened. For instance, if your sleep environment is well-appointed, but you often wake up from nightmares or needing to use the bathroom, you’d need to take a different approach, like managing daytime stress better or drinking fewer fluids before bed.
Habits To Support Your Circadian Rhythm
The circadian rhythm, or sleep/wake cycle, is your body’s natural clock, telling you when to sleep and when to wake. When your environment disrupts this rhythm, you’ll have more trouble sleeping. Blue light from computer screens and excessive caffeine consumption are both common obstacles to maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm, but you can manage their effects by exposing your eyes to sunlight early in the day and avoiding naps too late in the day. These habits encourage your body to adhere to natural biological cues for sleep.
Sleep can be challenging, but there’s no question that it’s essential for healthy functioning. If you have persistent insomnia, you may need a doctor’s advice, but it’s important to make sure you’re following these healthy sleep habits no matter what.
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