As many as 62% of adults in a worldwide survey report that they do not sleep well.
In an effort to improve sleep quality, many people turn to prescription drugs. But medication is not only expensive, they can also lead to a variety of health issues. Fortunately, there are alternatives. If you’re desperate for a good night’s sleep, here are six changes you could make to your routine.
1. Consider purchasing a humidifier
If you find it difficult to breathe throughout the night (or if your partner notices), the air in your bedroom may be too dry. By eliminating dry air, a humidifier can make a significant difference in your sleep quality. In order to keep it sanitary and functioning properly, however, it’s important to maintain your humidifier and change the filters periodically.
2. Cut out screen time
The blue light emitted from the screens of electronic devices like your TV, phone, and tablet delay the release of melatonin in your brain. This makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. So instead of spending your hours before bedtime binging Netflix or scouring social media, consider a different routine. Taking a hot bath and listening to soothing music can help prepare your body and mind to sleep. Reading a paperback can help your mind wind down. Find something relaxing and enjoyable that won’t stimulate your mind and keep you awake.
Blue light may negatively impact your sleeping habits, but don’t discount technology entirely. There are apps available for your smartphone which can actually improve your sleep, such as Sleep Time, SnoreLab, Capture, and Headspace. For example, Headspace promotes a more restful sleep with calming sleep sounds and guided meditations.
If you’re running a lot of extra apps and your older smartphone is having issues loading them, it may be time for an upgrade. Newer models like the iPhone 11 are more powerful and have all-day battery life, so you’re phone is less likely to crash when you’re using a sleep app. If you’re an Android user, the Samsung Galaxy S10 also features extra battery life and improved performance.
3. Dim the lights
Along with staying off electronic devices, dimming the lights in your bedroom can help set the tone for a restful night. Consider purchasing a dimmable bedside lamp and/or dimmer switch for your overhead light. The combination of reading a book in low lighting can be just what you need to be lured into a deep sleep. When it’s time for sleep, however, making your room completely dark can help you sleep more deeply.
4. Check your mattress
Your mattress plays a key role in sleep quality. Many people continue to sleep on a mattress that needed to be replaced years ago. While each mattress is different, and many factors go into how long a mattress lasts, it’s generally a good idea to evaluate the condition of your mattress after five years. Here are some signs that your mattress could be causing or exacerbating your sleep problems:
It’s sagging in the middle.
You have back pain in the morning.
Your allergies act up at night.
5. Watch your intake
Our bodies and minds are sensitive to what we consume throughout the day. Being conscious of food and drink, especially within a few hours of bedtime, can make a big difference in how well you sleep. For instance, don’t choose foods that can give you indigestion or an upset stomach as your late-night snack. Also, alcohol can help people fall asleep, but it can also disrupt your sleep in the middle of the night. If you’re a coffee drinker, try avoid having it in the late afternoon or evening.
6. Start exercising
Exercising can also lead to better sleep. Not only does it extend the amount of time you spend in deep sleep, but it can also help you stay asleep for longer. This is because physical activity makes you tired and needing rest by the time night comes. Also, exercising is known to relieve stress and anxiety, which are common causes of sleep issues. You don’t have to leave your home to get in a workout. You can put together a home gym with inexpensive equipment like balance balls and free weights, or you can spend a little more and add a treadmill or exercise bike.
There are ways to get better sleep without medication. Create a sleep-inducing atmosphere by getting a humidifier, avoiding the use of electronic screens at bedtime, and keeping the lights low. Assess the quality of your mattress and find the right replacement if necessary. Be careful with what you eat and drink in the hours leading up to bedtime, and keep a regular exercise routine. Making minor changes to your routine can make a major difference in the quality of your sleep.