Sure, many of us will get an extra hour to sleep this coming weekend. But will this make you sleep better? The CDC has said that more than one-third of Americans lack sufficient sleep—and that’s not just about not having enough time for it.
How can you learn to sleep better?
Certain medications and supplements can help, of course, but what if this alternative isn’t right for you or doesn’t do the trick? Several experts weigh in below.
- Avoid the blues–As in the type of light emitted from your screens. Stop using your devices two hours before bedtime. Alternatively, “turn down the brightness or wear amber-tinted glasses designed to block blue light.”
- Tub time–A bath or shower right before bed raises your body temperature, which then drops in a way that helps your body sleep.
- Steer clear of the nightcap–Which is likely to decrease your deep sleep, increase snoring, and disrupt dreaming.
- Follow the 90-minute rule–You can actually figure out how to wake up at the optimal time (when you’ll feel better), which is at the end of a 90-minute cycle. “…(D)ecide when you want to wake up and then count back in 90 minutes blocks to discover the best time to fall asleep.”
- Distract your brain–Do something to tire your brain, e.g., counting backwards from 100 in threes. “Or, if you’re not good with numbers, think of a category (countries or fruit and vegetables) and then come up with an example of that category for each letter of the alphabet. A is for Albania, B is for Bulgaria, or A is for apple, B is for banana, etc.”
- Make a list–Things that worry you or that you’re anticipating—then leave it be til morning.
- Try the magic yawn–“Fool your body into thinking that you are tired by letting your eyes droop, your arms and legs feel heavy, and even faking a yawn or two.”
- Fool yourself–“Oddly, attempting to stay awake is surprisingly tiring and helps you fall asleep. But remember that you have to use the power of your mind – you must try to keep your eyes open (you are allowed to blink), but are not allowed to read, watch television, or move about.”
- Condition yourself–“Choose a soporific piece of music that you like, and fall asleep with it quietly playing. Over time, your brain will associate the music with sleep, and simply listening to it will help you nod off.”
- Don’t just lie there–Don’t stay in bed longer than 20 minutes if you’re awake. Get up and do something non-stimulating.
- Relax, don’t worry–Anxiety about not sleeping will just make it worse. Even though you’re not yet sleeping, relaxing in bed is a good thing too.
- Consider segmented sleep–It’s okay to sleep for a period, then get up and do things for a while, then go back to bed. Lots of people slept this way, in fact, in pre-industrial times.
- KNOW YOUR BEDTIME AND STICK TO ONE SLEEP SCHEDULE
- ELIMINATE ALL CAFFEINE STARTING AT 2 PM
- NO ALCOHOL WITHIN 3 HOURS OF BEDTIME
- STOP EXERCISING 4 HOURS BEFORE BED
- GIVE THE SUN A “HIGH 5” EVERY MORNING (15 MINUTES OF MORNING SUNLIGHT)