Struggling With Sleep? Tips To Help You Sleep, From The Experts
Updated July 07, 2020
When you’re struggling with getting a good night’s sleep, it can feel like there could be nothing worse. Lying awake for hours at night unable to fall asleep, or waking up and not being able to fall back asleep, not only leaves you feeling tired, but may start to leave you feeling the situation is hopeless as well. Most people find that they can’t just get more sleep by trying harder. But experts recommend trying the following sleep tips to get good sleep.
What Are Sleep Problems?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, in the US, there are 40 million people that struggle with sleep-wake disorders that are chronic. Then, there are around another 20 million that occasionally struggle with sleep problems. There are several sleep-wake disorders that people commonly experience:
- Insomnia: Struggling to fall asleep at night and stay asleep once you’re sleeping
- Narcolepsy: Feeling extremely tired during the day, and even falling asleep, even though you are getting enough sleep overnight
- Sleep apnea: Your breathing is interrupted as you sleep
- Restless leg syndrome: Urge to move legs when sitting or standing which can make it difficult to fall asleep
However, you may also be having a hard time getting good sleep because of stress or anxiety.
The Importance OfSleep
Healthy sleep is important to your physical and mental wellbeing. The American Sleep Association (ASA) shares that not getting healthy sleep can impact your health in the following ways:
- Difficulty Concentrating: If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can impact your brain. You may notice that you’re struggling to remember things or have a hard time staying focused on a task.
- Your Mood: When you don’t get enough sleep, it can cause mood swings and things like depression.
- Heart Problems: Not getting enough sleep can lead to a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.
- Weight Management Struggles: A lack of getting a healthy amount of sleep can contribute to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
- Compromised Immune System: If you aren’t getting enough sleep, it can leave you with a compromised immune system making it more likely for you to become ill.
Overall, getting healthy sleep can give you a higher chance of living longer. But this doesn’t just mean getting as much sleep as possible. It’s about getting the right amount of sleep. ASA recommends you get 7 – 9 hours each night.
If you’re struggling to get that amount, these tips can help.
Exercise (Just Not Before Bed)
There are many messages out there about the importance of exercise for a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise can help your physical health, and it can boost your mental health as well. It can also help improve your sleep habits if you exercise at the right time of day.
Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends that some people benefit from exercising at least one or two hours before you go to sleep for the night. When you exercise, it reduces endorphins in your brain and increases your body temperature. If you try to exercise and go to sleep immediately afterward, your body might have a hard time letting you fall asleep.
However, some peopledon’t seem to have a problem falling asleep immediately after exercising. Either way, the science backs that exercise can help improve sleep habits, so find what works the best for you.
Avoid Caffeine Late In The Day
Many people rely on a cup of coffee first thing in the morning to help them feel more awake. And while the caffeine in their coffee can help them feel more ready for the day, having caffeine later in the day can have a negative impact on your sleep-wake cycle.
The Sleep Foundation explains that caffeine in coffee, tea, or other beverages can work to boost your adrenaline and block the chemicals in your brain that induce sleep. This might be helpful to feel like you have the energy for the day but can leave you with your eyes wide open while trying to fall asleep at night.
Maintain A Regular Sleep Schedule
If you struggle with getting the sleep that you need each night, try to maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle. Going to bed around the same time every night and waking up around the same time can help your body know what to expect. If you constantly alter this routine, it can throw off what your body thinks is normal for your sleep-wake cycle making it harder for you to fall asleep.
Don’t Stay In Bed Awake
If you find that you’re lying in bed and unable to fall asleep, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you try something else. If you’ve been unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep for 20 minutes, they recommend that you get up out of bed. You can try doing something like reading, listening to soft music, or other activities that are relaxing.
Then, when you start to feel more tired, you can lay down and try to fall asleep again.
If you find that as soon as your head hits the pillow each night, a steady string of worries enters your head, you may benefit from journaling at night. It can be common for anxiety to cause people to have a hard time falling asleep or falling back asleep if they wake up in the middle of the night.
Taking the time to journal before lying down can help you to get those worries out of your head. You can spend several minutes writing about your day or things that are on your mind. This simple exercise can help you to clear your head of things you’re anxious about, which can help you to fall asleep easier.
Create TheRight Environment
Creating the right environment for sleeping can help you to wake feeling more rested each morning. Some of the things to take into consideration when designing your sleeping space include:
- It Should Be Quiet. If you are unable to control all the noise that can affect you when trying to go to sleep, it can help to create white noise such as with a fan or to give earplugs a try.
- Keep It Cool. Scientists have found that a cool room can be more effective in getting a good night’s sleep. Some find that it’s helpful to turn the heat down, open a window, or use a fan. The Sleep Foundation shares that trying to sleep in too warm of a space can impact your sleep-wake cycle.
- Make It Dark. Light can have an impact on your sleep-wake cycle. During the day, it can be helpful to expose yourself to natural lighting. If you live somewhere, that doesn’t get a lot of natural sunlight, and it can be helpful to try using a lightbox. Leading up to the time you want to fall asleep, it’s helpful to start to reduce the light you’re exposing yourself to. And, it can help to keep your room dark when sleeping. This can help signal to your body that it’s time to fall asleep.
- Get TheRight Mattress. If you find that you’re tossing and turning all night, it could be that your mattress is uncomfortable. Try to find a mattress that is comfortable to you while still giving you the support that your body needs. Being comfortable can help you to sleep better.
If you’re struggling to get the sleep that you need at night, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for help. As you can see, getting good sleep can have an impact on many areas of your life, including your physical and mental health.
There are many different health conditions and disorders that can impact your sleep-wake cycle. Some medications could be making it more difficult to get the right amount of sleep each night. Talk to your doctor about your challenges so they can help you diagnose the problem.
It can also be helpful to talk to a therapist, like those at BetterHelp, if you’re struggling with your sleep habits. There are many mental health challenges other than sleep disorders that could be causing you to struggle with insomnia or even an occasional sleepless night. A therapist can work with you to try working through your anxiety or identifying where your sleep issues are coming from.
There are a number of treatments that can help you to get better sleep, depending on what the cause is. Some people with sleep apnea benefit from wearing a CPAP to help them get enough oxygen throughout the night. Others benefit from medication to help them improve their sleep-wake cycles. And, there are still others that find relief from sleepless nights through the progress they make in therapy.
The right treatment, or combination of treatments, can vary from person to person. So, if you’re struggling with sleep, talking to a professional can help you start to identify the right steps you can take to see improvements.