Rarely do Americans achieve the nightly recommendation of at least seven hours of sleep. Whether you share a bed or sleep alone, here are six tips to improve the quality of sleep. March is National Sleep Month, so use the tips in this article to sleep well and enjoy sweet dreams.
#1 Get the right amount of sleep.
The quality of your sleep can depend heavily on the quantity of your sleep. Consider sleep your daily reset button. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your goal should be to get seven or more hours of sleep each night to optimize your well-being. However, too much of a good thing can cause negative effects. Sleeping more than nine hours each night may for some people actually cause similar negative effects to not getting enough sleep. If seven to eight hours of sleep each night isn’t in the cards, adding even 30 minutes of additional sleep can provide benefits.
#2 Schedule your success.
Prioritizing sleep is a must. Much like any other appointment in your day, sleep should be scheduled in as well. Scheduling your sleep time, including your goals of when you, ideally, would like to be in bed and when you would like to wake up, is a great way to make sure sleep is at the top of your priority list. Try using apps on your smartphone that remind you when it is time to go to bed. You can also use apps that wake you in a slow, controlled process so your alarm doesn’t jolt you out of bed and you don’t keep hitting the snooze button. Smartwatches and wearables can also encourage you to monitor and maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
#3 Create the ideal environment for you.
Just as an ideal and organized workspace is essential for productive work, your sleep environment should be conducive to quality sleep. Make your room is as dark as possible with room darkening drapes or blinds. Also, consider placing any mirrors in the room facing away from the bed, as this can reflect light from the window into your eyes, which may disturb your sleep. Additionally, cooler temperatures and breathable bed sheets may also help your sleep quality.
#4 Limit screen time before bed.
According to a study out of the University of California San Francisco, 68% of smartphone owners have their phones on their bedside table at night. If at all possible, avoid using your smartphone right before falling asleep as it seems that usage during the hour around your bedtime may be the most problematic. Fortunately, many smartphones and tablets have a feature built in to minimize the blue-light-emitting screens, which may disrupt your ability to fall asleep. This feature filters out blue light and enhances warmer colors in the evening, which may promote good sleep. Check out your phone settings and activate this feature, if available.
#5 Set your intentions.
Meditation prior to sleep or even when waking up can provide positive effects on your well-being. Meditation can allow your heart rate to slow and prevent thoughts from racing through your mind. If you are unsure of how to meditate or if meditation is right for you, try some rounds of deep breathing once you lie in bed. Not only is it important to set intentions prior to sleep, but it is also a great way to start the day when you wake up. If possible, take your time as you get up in the morning, allowing your body to rise as comfortably as possible. If you are looking for help with meditating, many apps are available that guide you through meditation and even remind you to meditate when you wake up in the morning.
As with any behavior you are looking to adopt, improving your sleep isn’t something that can be accomplished quickly. Take time to try out these recommendations to see which ones resonate with you.