You probably didn’t know that one in five Americans get less than six hours of sleep per night —a problem that can lead to harmful health consequences. Chronic health risks of sleep deprivation include obesity and heart health disease, among many more. If you have complications sleeping, the following strategies may help you sleep better.
Check for lifestyle causes. Some medications or conditions can interfere with your sleep patterns. If you take medication(s), consult with your doctor about the sleep side effects. You may be able to adjust your medication to restore healthier sleep.
Nap if needed. If you’re tired throughout the day, take 30 minute daytime naps. Naps later in the evening can interfere with sleep later. If you have a problem getting to sleep at night, then not napping close to bedtime can make you sleep better and more likely to stay asleep.
Exercise earlier, not later. Because exercise stimulates your body and brain, it might be difficult to fall asleep if you exercise close to bedtime. Make sure to finish exercising at least three hours before getting into bed.
Practice better sleep hygiene. It’s important to use your bed for sleep and sex only, and to block outs much noise and light as possible when sleeping. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time of the day to introduce a healthy sleep pattern.
Pay attention to your diet. If you stay away from foods high in sugar and caffeine, you may improve your sleep patterns. Foods that cause heartburn like chocolate, coffee, and sugary sodas should be moderated in or eliminated from your diet. Also, limit your alcohol intake for at least two hours before bed.
Talk to a sleep specialist. If your own moderations aren’t doing justice, you may want to see a sleep professional to either diagnose your problem or propose behavioral and possibly drug treatments.
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