Can't sleep? You're not alone. 10% of American adults (that's over 30 million!) report trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, waking up early or waking up not feeling rested. And that's not good, since a chronic lack of sleep can lead to accidents on the job and on the road. In fact, in a National Sleep Foundation study, 29% of respondents reported having fallen asleep or having become very sleepy at work and 36% reported having nodded off while driving.
To learn more about the effects of sleep deprivation, watch this video.
But here's the good news: Just a few simple lifestyle changes can help you sleep better. Follow these tips throughout your day for better sleep tonight.
1. Cut down on caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant and you get it from coffee and teas, all those sodas you drink and even from that piece of chocolate you snuck in after lunch. The amount of time caffeine stays in your system varies. To be safe, avoid caffeinated coffee, tea, and colas a few hours before bedtime.
2. Stop playing catch-up.
Snoozing until noon on Saturdays won't make up for skimping on sleep all week. Instead, try sticking to a regular sleep schedule—where you get up around the same time every morning and you go to bed around the same time every night.
3. Separate sleep from stress.
According to a 2009 survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly one third of participants said the current tough economic times have kept them up at least a few nights a week. To help, do your best to keep worries out of the bedroom—save money discussions with your partner until morning, and don't try to work or pay bills in bed.
4. Keep your bedroom just a bedroom.
It's not just the late-night monologue from the TV that keeps you up. Eliminating any extraneous activity from your bedroom should be your goal. (Working in bed is a no-no!) Save the bedroom for sleeping and sex, and lose any distractions that could keep you awake. For more tips on optimizing your bedroom for a good night's sleep, visit the guide to creating a sleep sanctuary.
5. Exercise earlier in the day.
Regular exercise may help you sleep better, but not if it's done too close to late in the day. To give your body ample time to wind down, stop your workout at least three hours before bedtime.
6. Rethink the power nap.
A short nap of approximately 30 minutes may help improve your alertness and have psychological benefits. Just be sure to nap midday and not too early, when your body may be ready to return to sleep, or too late in the day, when napping may interfere with your nighttime sleep.
7. Don't smoke.
As if you needed another reason to quit, here's one more: Nicotine is a stimulant, and smoking before bedtime will only keep you up. Nicotine withdrawal can also disrupt sleep, so talk to your doctor about the best way to stop.
For more tips on how to get to sleep and stay asleep, watch this video.
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