Tossing and turning at night? Getting frustrated that it seems like you’re up every hour or so and only getting something resembling more of a nap than a restful night’s sleep? You are not alone. According to various resources, roughly 25 - 35 percent of Americans struggle to get quality shut-eye and struggle with some form of insomnia.
There are many contributing factors to restless sleep. Some medical reasons include a diagnosis of insomnia or sleep apnea by a physician, other medical issues that can include sleeplessness as a symptom, and taking medications that can cause restlessness at night or induce sleepiness during the day, which can lead to sleeplessness at night.
However, there are some not so good sleep hygiene habits that we unknowingly bring onto ourselves. Such as checking emails and social media before bedtime, eating too close to bedtime, or not sticking to a consistent sleep schedule.
The amount of money spent per year on over the counter and prescription sleep-aids is staggering: approximately over 30 billion dollars. This number is expected to continue to grow as more people become desperate for some sleep.
So what can you do to get better quality sleep without having to resort to sleep-aids?
Here is a quick round-up of some of the top natural ways to get better sleep and improve your sleep hygiene:
- Turn off the TV and set down your phone for at least an hour before bed. Science-based research has shown that avoiding light emitted from electronics before bedtime can greatly improve a night’s rest. That means, no checking your Facebook or Twitter while in bed. And try to avoid falling asleep with the TV on. Setting a sleep timer may be a helpful reminder!
- Forgo the Afternoon Nap: Although tempting, especially when you didn’t get much sleep the night before, naps can affect the amount and quality of sleep you will get over the next night. If you really need to squeeze in a few winks, limit yourself to a 20-minute catnap. You’ll wake up refreshed, but should still be able to sleep through the night.
- Try to stick to a consistent schedule as best you can. It might be tough setting a strict bedtime, but if you maintain a pretty regular schedule throughout the week - follow it on the weekends too. You can’t technically catch up on sleep, but you can ensure better sleep on a regular basis.
- Pay attention to your diet. Caffeine and sugar in the afternoons or evenings can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep throughout the night. Try to limit your intake or try to limit when you’re going to have coffee or a sweet treat to earlier in the day.
- Try a soothing bath and/or some deep stretching or yoga before bedtime. Implementing relaxing and soothing activities before bed can help you unwind and destress from the day and set you up nicely for some much needed deep sleep. Add in some aromatherapy for your bath, such as adding in a few drops of lavender essential oil and see for yourself!