Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to a healthy, happy life. Unfortunately, about 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep every night—the minimum recommended amount for adults. On average, we’re sleeping a whole hour less than we did 70 years ago! Whether due to busy schedules, sleep disorders, or just plain procrastination, sleep deprivation is all too common. If you're struggling to get the shut-eye you need, these natural tips can help you sleep better without turning to prescription medication.
Upgrade Your Mattress
Did you know that your mattress has an expiration date? Like many other things in your bedroom, mattresses are meant to be replaced somewhat regularly. Mattresses tend to last about 10 years before they become unsupportive, saggy, and ridden with irritating allergens. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or waking up stiff, it might be time for a new mattress. Take some time to learn about your sleeping preferences before heading to the mattress store. Different types of sleepers require different levels of support during the night. For example, back, stomach and side sleepers can benefit from supportive beds that offer pressure relief while keeping the spine aligned. Similarly, if you suffer from allergies, a hypoallergenic mattress is a must-have. Contemplate your personal circumstances and research your best options.
Redecorate Your Bedroom
While you’re upgrading your bed, give some attention to the rest of your sleeping environment. Your bedroom should feel like a sleep sanctuary! Even if you’re not aware of it, bedroom clutter can keep your mind stimulated long after you turn off the lights. Eliminate unnecessary items from the environment to reduce any sources of stress that may be impacting your sleep quality.
It’s also smart to remove electronics from your bedroom since these promote wakefulness, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Also, do whatever it takes to keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet during the night. This might mean buying blackout curtains or adding a room air conditioner to lower the temp.
Grab a Workout
People who live active lives tend to sleep better, thanks to the sleep-promoting effects of regular exercise. While any amount of exercise at any point in the day is better than nothing, scheduling your sessions at certain times might help you sleep better. Morning workouts appear to promote deeper sleep during the night. In the evening, moderate aerobic activity can help you fall asleep faster. Just be aware that vigorous evening workouts can actually disrupt your sleep, so stick to a brisk walk or gentle Pilates session at this time.
Banish Bad Bedtime Habits
Many popular night-time activities, from binge-watching TV shows to cramming in extra work, can wreak havoc on our sleep quality. Business Insider notes other disruptive habits include things like eating heavy meals, and drinking alcohol or caffeine too close to bedtime. Try to put an end to your bad bedtime habits, and replace them with sleep-promoting activities. Read a book, listen to relaxing music, take a bath, or do some light stretching. If you’re having trouble keeping your eyes off your phone, try listening to an audiobook or podcast as you wind down.
Try Natural Sleep Aids
If you’re still struggling to get a good night’s sleep, try some natural sleep aids before reaching for prescription medications. Melatonin, for example, can improve overall sleep quality in people who suffer from sleep disorders. Other natural sleep supplements include valerian root, L-Theanine, and magnesium. While these remedies may help you relax in the evenings, they work best in combination with healthy sleep habits.
The problem with prescription sleeping pills is that they don’t address the underlying problems that are causing sleeplessness. When it comes to sleep quality, nothing beats the long-lasting benefits of a healthy lifestyle. A simple tweak to your daily routine might just be your ticket to superior sleep.
*Dylan Foster is a writer at Health Well Wise. When he isn’t working as an office assistant, he enjoys DIY projects at home and hiking with his dog.