Medicated

22 Tips to Sleep Better TONIGHT!


written by Carrie Borzillo - Sep 20, 2021

Photo Credit: by Bruce Mars, Unsplash.com
Photo Credit: by Bruce Mars, Unsplash.com

Stop what you’re doing and ask everyone in the room right now if they got a good night’s sleep last night and woke up feeling rested and ready for the day. Chances are maybe one person said, “yes.” If you are not that lucky one, you are not alone.

With stress, depression, and anxiety still at a high due to the pandemic, more people are having trouble getting a good night's sleep. A study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reported over half of the participants cited an increase in sleep disturbances since the start of the pandemic. Some experts are even calling this “COVID-somnia.”

Though it differs from country to country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than one third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis. But, what exactly is a good night’s sleep? Here are the CDCs guidelines on how many hours of sleep you need at every stage of life…

● Birth to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours

● 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours

● 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours

● 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours

● 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours

● 13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours

● 18 to 60 years: 7 or more hours

● 61 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours

● 65 years or older: 7 to 8 hours

Lack of sleep can affect everything from your health to mental health, including your weight, metabolism, brain function, and mood and can even contribute to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

If you’re waking up tired, cranky, and hitting the snooze button on your alarm often, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. Likewise, if during the day, you’re drowsy, irritable, moody, and/or unproductive and unfocused, you probably need more sleep.

We’ve sourced the best sleep tips from the CDC, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, National Sleep Foundation, National Institutes of Health, the Sleep Foundation, and Healthline to find 22 tips on how you can get a better night's sleep tonight!

7 Tips for a Sleep-Friendly Bedroom

The key to a good night’s sleep starts before your head hits the pillow. Since we spend about one third of our lives in bed, it’s wise to invest in a good bed and everything that goes on it and around it!

1. Buy a Great Mattress: How to choose the best mattress for sleep? Sleep Foundation says that side sleepers should choose medium-soft to medium-firm mattresses, and back and stomach sleepers should look for a medium-firm to firm mattress.

2. Buy Seasonal Sheets: If you’re a hot sleeper that sweats even when it’s cool out, you’ll want a set of “cooling sheets” made of natural fibers because they breathe better. Even if you’re not a hot sleeper, it’s still a good idea to have a set of sheets for the summer that are cooler-to-the-touch, and another set for winter that are thicker and cozier, such as flannel, fleece, or jersey sheets.

3. Get a Weighted Blanket: Yes, weighted blankets are trendy, but they work wonders. They put extra weight on your body, which helps to calm your mind and your nervous system which leads to better sleep. It almost feels like getting a big bear hug from a loved one or being swaddled like a baby.

4. Pick the Perfect Pillow: As for pillows, choosing the right one for the best night’s sleep is similar to choosing your mattress. It’s all about whether you sleep on your side, back or stomach. Back sleepers need neck and head support so a medium-thick pillow might work best. Side sleepers need their head aligned with their spine, so a fuller, firmer pillow is the recommendation. Stomach sleepers need a flatter, softer pillow to keep their spine neutral.

5. Block the Light: Black-out curtains are wonderful for keeping the bedroom dark. You can also just add black-out liners to your existing curtains. You can also try replacing your light bulbs and switches with 3-way dimmer options with a remote control that you keep on your nightstand, too.

6. Get the Temperature Right: Most doctors say that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius). If you don’t have central air, invest in a quiet floor or table fan with a remote control you keep on your nightstand.

7. Tidy Up: Studies show that if the room is cluttered and messy, it’s not good for the mind and increases the risk of disturbed sleep. If you only have time to clean or declutter one room in your house every day, make it your bedroom.

4 Tips for Daytime Sleep Prep

What you do during the day can greatly affect how easily you fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Here are three tips to try...

1. Exercise Regularly: Being active daily leads to better sleep at night. It helps you to relax, reduces anxiety, and normalizes your internal clock. A recent study showed that working out moderately is okay more than one hour before bedtime. If your workout is more vigorous or intense, you’d want to do that 2-3 hour before bed.

2. Get Some Sun: Getting a little sunshine during the day can help maintain your body’s natural circadian rhythm which affects your sleep cycle. It also increases serotonin, which is a mood booster. And, going to bed stress-free and in a good mood helps one sleep better.

3. Don’t Nap Too Long: If you’re a napper, take shorter naps earlier in the day. Most experts say naps should be only 15-20 minutes and no later than 2 p.m.

4. Stop Drinking & Eating Before Bed: Most experts advise no alcohol or food three hours before bedtime.

6 Ideas for a Pre-Bedtime Routine

Routines are not just for maintaining good mental health and dealing with anxiety during the pandemic, they’re also good for getting a good night’s sleep.

1. Stick To a Schedule: We know this is hard to do, but what’s best for good sleep is sticking to a schedule in which you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and night. Set an evening alarm 30 minutes before bedtime to start prepping for bed. Set your morning alarm for 10 minutes before you want to get up to give yourself a little wiggle room.

2. Unplug Electronics: Turn off all electronics (television, computer, cell phone, gaming devices, etc.) at least 30 minutes before bed. The only exceptions here are if you are using a calming sound machine or meditation app that helps you go to sleep.

3. Engage in a Relaxing Activity: Meditation, light yoga, stretching, breathwork, ASMR, calming music, and/or a hot bath or shower are great activities to do right before bed to get your mind, body, and soul ready for slumber. Keep these activities to just 10-20 minutes before bedtime.

4. Get Cozy: Invest in some comfortable sleepwear, a nice dark eye mask to block out light, ear plugs to block out the sound, and fuzzy sleep socks if you like to sleep in socks. Being comfortable in your body and your bed are key factors to falling asleep quickly and sleeping soundly.

5. Use Your Senses: Try aromatherapy or essential oils to help you relax immediately before bed. Lavender, ylang ylang, and chamomile are the top three choices for relaxing scents. You can either apply a few dabs to your pillow, temple, or wrists or spritz it on your pajamas or bed.

6. Massage Your Ears: In acupressure, An Mian are the pressure points for treating insomnia. According to Medical News Today, “The An Mian points are on either side of the neck. To find them, place a finger behind each earlobe, and move the fingers just behind the bony protrusion. Light pressure is sufficient.”

5 Ways to Trouble-Shoot During Bedtime

Getting to sleep on time and with ease is one achievement. But, staying asleep without waking up in the night is another. If you find that you’ve woken up prematurely, here are some do’s and don’ts…

1. Assess Your Space: Look around and see if there is an environmental reason that made you wake up — are you hot or cold? Is it too bright in the room? Adjust as needed and hit the pillow again.

2. Don’t Plug Back In: You might think that since you’re awake anyway, you might as well check your email, finish binging your favorite show, or even stare at the clock. No. This will not help you get back to sleep. You don’t want your brain activated; you want it to shut down so you can fall back asleep.

3. Move to Another Room: Experts suggest if you can’t fall back asleep within about 20 minutes, try moving to a different room to sleep.

4. Revisit Your Relaxation Exercise: Whether it’s mediation, breathing exercises, calming music, or a relaxation app, give your go-to relaxation mode another shot for a few minutes.

5. Count Backwards: This is similar to the old-school method of counting sheep. If you start counting backwards slowly from 100, chances are you will NOT get to zero. Boring, repetitive tasks like counting are a great way to shut down the brain and bring you back to sleep-mode.

If the above doesn’t work, you can try over-the-counter, natural, holistic supplements, such as melatonin, magnesium, and CBD products made specifically for sleeping. Follow the instructions on the bottle and consult your doctor if you have any issues with these supplements.

But, if you believe you have insomnia or another type of sleep disorder, please consult your primary doctor for a recommendation. Common prescriptions that are approved for treating insomnia include Ambien and Silenor. But, never borrow from a friend or buy illegally, always consult a doctor first.

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