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Alaska Sleep Education Center

How to Sleep Better Without Medication

Posted by Anitra Choi on Oct 3, 2019 10:23:00 AM

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to functioning as a normal person. When you do not get enough quality sleep, the symptoms of sleep deprivation creep up quickly, and a chronic insomnia problem can lead to negative long-term side effects.

Mature man with problems spending evening alone

Natural Sleep

Good sleep patterns promote healthy, natural sleep, but as adults, busy and stressful lives can obstruct these patterns. Anxiety over situations at work, home or in school can keep us up, but the best way to combat this is to use the same bedtime routine at the same time, every night; including vacation days!

Over time, our body’s internal clocks adapt to a regular sleep pattern. Basically they learn how to sleep better through practice. Don’t worry if you have trouble falling asleep occasionally, just get out of bed and implement one of the tips below; trying to force yourself to sleep may cause even more anxiety.

Watch your Diet

Caffeine, nicotine, and sugar are stimulants and will wreak havoc on a good night’s sleep, especially if ingested too close to bedtime. Consider what you eat and how much as well. Eating a huge meal before going to bed can cause intestinal discomfort and may keep you from getting to sleep sleep. The same is true when you go to bed with an empty, growling stomach.

If you think food, caffeine or nicotine habits are keeping you from sleeping well at night, try to finish eating major meals at least two hours before going to bed. Do not smoke or ingest caffeine for at least 4-6 hours before going to bed. For some people, it can take even longer, so to be safe, leave the habit alone by midday.

Relaxing Rituals

Besides going to sleep at the same time every night, practicing a relaxation ritual before bed help tell the body it is time to slow down. Find your own ritual, but it should be a habit which stills the body. Warm showers, baths, reading, listening to relaxing music, or even listening to an audio book with the lights off are all great methods of finding tranquility.

Although some may swear by a heavy workout or television time before bed, researchers caution against either. It has been suggested that media consumption disrupts sleeping patterns, and exercising gets the heart rate pumping, thus keeping the body awake.

Find the Comfort Zone

Without a comfortable room, bed, pillows and blankets, it can be difficult to sleep. Make your sleeping space just right for a good night’s rest. It may seem obvious to understanding how to sleep better at night, but these steps are easy to ignore or overlook.

Make the room dark, or dim it to night light levels. Studies show that anything more than a night light can be obstructive to falling asleep and staying asleep. Pull curtains or close blinds tight to prevent light from spilling in at night or when the sun comes up.

People who have sleep apnea or other chronic sleep problems can consider using humidifiers or specialized sleep apnea equipment to assist with clear breathing. Don’t forget the mattress and pillow you sleep on!

A comfortable mattress has substantial effects on sleep quality, as does the pillow you rest your head on. Take some time to shop for the right mattress, and always buy the best quality you can afford. A bad mattress can obstruct sleep and lead to a sore back in the morning.

powerPower Napping

A power nap of 10, 15 or even 30 minutes can work wonders on mental clarity and lingering fatigue. But don’t sleep too much during the day; it is likely you will have trouble falling asleep at night. This is especially true if the nap occurs too late in the afternoon. If you must nap, take a snooze after lunch but well before dinner.

Exercise

Regular exercise has numerous benefits, one of which is promoting better sleep at night. Get into a regular exercise routine on a daily basis. This does not mean you should workout as hard as you can everyday. This can lead to the need for even more sleep to recover, and worse, to a state of over-training. If you end up over-training, it will be even more difficult to get to sleep.

Instead, find ways to be active for 20, 30 or 45 minutes every day, whether it is playing a sport, lifting weights or going to a dance class. An active body rests better at night.

Comedy Rx for Stress

Stress and anxiety may be the largest contributors to obstructing sleep patterns in modern adults. Find a way to manage them. Those problems and worries will still be there in the morning, and without proper sleep you won’t be any better prepared to deal with them.

One of the best ways to reduce stress and let go of worry is by laughing. If you are feeling stressed, find something that makes you laugh. It could be a movie, a live comedy show (many of which you can now rent or order online,) or a funny book.

You might even try laughing out loud for no reason at all. Smiling and laughing trigger chemical reactions in our body that can improve our mood, even if the cause is nothing at all.

Chronic Sleep Deprivation

Using the above tips on how to sleep better at night are sure to help people with occasional insomnia, but a regular pattern of losing sleep can lead to serious health issues. If you think you have chronic insomnia, or are just sleep-deprived on a regular basis, it may be time to see a medical specialist.

Getting to sleep recharges our minds and bodies, and prepares us for the day to come.  However, without it we quickly begin to suffer. Use these tips to implement a regular pattern of deep sleep. It just may change your life!

Improving your sleep truly improves every aspect of your  life, too. 

Call Alaska Sleep Clinic to speak with one of our board-certified sleep specialists.

Live In AK? Need a Sleep Doc?

About the Author: Anitra Choi a Community Manager and professional writer with 4 years of experience in content writing for MeowEssay that take difficult concepts and write about them in an easy-to-understand way, suitable for almost any audience.

Topics: insomnia, power naps

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