The science behind sleep is still something that researchers don’t fully understand, despite countless, in-depth studies. According to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 25 percent of American adults develop and suffer from acute insomnia every year, though the issue often resolves itself with time. However, since sleep mechanics are still a mystery, people who develop insomnia often get stuck with incomplete solutions for getting a good night’s sleep.
If this sounds like you, your best bet may be trying out different sleep strategies until you find the one that works best for your body and lifestyle. Trial and error take patience, but with natural remedies, there’s usually no harm in trying different options. If you can’t seem to get the sleep you need, consider the following tips and tricks.
Cut Down on Screen Time
Electronic devices influence your body’s biological clock and emit blue light that can affect your natural melatonin levels and decrease sleepiness. According to a 2011 Sleep in America Poll, about four out of 10 Americans take their cell phones into bed with them.
To keep electronics from disrupting your sleep, consider using blue light glasses while on the computer and using the blue light filter option on your phone, if available. Also, ensure that you stay away from all screens, including your phone and television, two to three hours before you go to sleep.
Cut Down on Alcohol
Alcohol doesn’t only affect your liver, but it also negatively affects your sleep quality. Since alcohol suppresses the central nervous system, it may cause your brain to slow down and help you relax and feel sleepy. Plus, excessive consumption can speed up sleep apnea in the long run. Instead of letting alcohol affect your sleep and cause sleep disruptions, make it a habit to consume it in moderation.
Cannabinoid compounds can help treat poor sleep because they attach to nerve receptors and provide a feeling of relaxation. Since CBD lacks THC—the compound which brings a buzz or high—many people use it to alleviate pain symptoms or treat anxiety and insomnia.
While there are plenty of different forms you can try, such as oils, vapors, and tinctures, using CBD edibles is an excellent way to help absorb the chemical more directly into your bloodstream for a quicker effect.
Get More Exercise
Although many people may not realize it, exercise plays a vital role in improving your sleep quality. Although there isn’t extensive research to understand how they’re linked, health experts believe it may be due to increased body temperature.
When your body heats during exercise, the sharp drop in temperature later in the day may contribute to drowsiness and relaxation. However, it’s best to exercise earlier in the day, preferably before the afternoon, so that you don’t stay energized and awake at night.
Switch Up Your Diet
Your diet also plays a significant role in affecting your sleep quality, and so does the type of food you eat, portion size, and meal timings. Here are two common habits that can lead to trouble sleeping:
- Consuming Caffeine– While you should limit drinking coffee to early mornings, there are plenty of other foods containing caffeine, such as sodas, chocolate, and ice cream. Ensure that you’re aware of what you’re eating so that you can restrict caffeine in the evening.
- Indulging in Spicy Food– While spicy food may be your favorite, it can contribute to heartburn and increase your body temperature, which may keep you awake at night. Make sure you’re not consuming any spicy food within three hours of going to bed.
Optimize Your Sleep Environment
An optimal sleep environment helps you fall asleep faster and help you get back to sleep should you wake up in the middle of the night. The first thing you should do is ensure that your room temperature stays between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. While you may think this is chilly, it can help regulate your body temperature. If your body gets too hot at night, it can keep you alert and awake, similar to how you feel when you exercise.
Apart from this, ensure that your room is free of noise, except soothing sounds or music if you need it. Also, ensure that there is no artificial lighting in your room and that you’re using comfortable bedding according to your preferences.
Stress can cause increased awareness levels that can delay sleep and make you even more stressed because of insufficient rest. There are plenty of things that you can do to reduce stress, such as practicing yoga, meditating, listening to music, and getting out into nature during the daylight.
Sleep on Schedule
A consistent sleep schedule can reset and fix your biological clock, making it easier for your body to tell when it’s time to shut down for the day. To readjust to a new sleep schedule, you have to force yourself to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day; it will be difficult at first but gets easier with time. Also, avoid sleeping in on the weekends and resist taking a nap in the afternoon, even if you’re exhausted after your meals or a long day of work.
Whatever approach you decide to take to improve your sleep—have patience. Training the body to follow a new schedule, learning to de-stress, or starting a new exercise regimen takes time and self-motivation. Be kind to yourself during the process and try not to add to your insomnia by putting pressure on yourself to get it right as quickly as possible.
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