Sleep matters. Anyone who’s pulled an all-nighter on a project or stayed up with a sick child knows the value of a good night’s rest. Sleep—or lack thereof—plays a role in everything from weight loss to emotional well-being. Score more zzz’s with these 9 tips to get better sleep.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic . It not only increases the risk for accidents, like falling asleep at the wheel, it also raises the risk for chronic conditions, like depression, diabetes, and hypertension. What’s more, poor sleep in older Americans may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. But it’s not just a higher risk of disease that makes poor sleep a problem; the brain also reboots itself during sleep, repairing damage and processing information.
Inadequate sleep affects two key hormones related to hunger too. A study from the University of Chicago found that healthy adults experiencing sleep deprivation showed lower levels of leptin, which tells the brain the appetite is satisfied, and higher levels of ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. Participants reported increased appetites, particularly for high-carb, calorie-dense foods .
Use these better sleep tips to get the shut-eye you need:
1. Create a bedtime ritual.
This tried-and-true strategy for getting kids to bed will help you sleep better too. Create a routine that tells your body it’s time to start winding down. Turn off the TV or glowing screens and wind down with a warm shower or by listening to soothing tunes.
2. Commit to a sleep schedule. It’s tempting to stay up late on weekends to binge watch your favorite show or read just one more chapter of the latest best seller, but that throws off the body’s clock. Instead, one of the top better sleep tips is to go to bed at the same time each night to establish a healthy sleep-wake pattern.
3. Don’t toss and turn in bed.
If shut-eye just isn’t happening, get out of bed after 15 minutes and find something relaxing to do, such as reading a book or listening to soft music. As soon as you start feeling tired, hit the sack.
4. Be mindful of what you’re drinking.
Since caffeine and alcohol impact the body long after you stop feeling their immediate effects, avoid both for up to five hours before bedtime. If you need help cutting back on caffeine, see 4 Tips for Java Junkies–How to Avoid Caffeine Withdrawal.
5. Exercise regularly.
A survey of more than 2,600 adults found that moderate to vigorous exercise was linked to better overall sleep quality , which makes getting regular workouts one of the top better sleep tips. Discover a fresh workout with 9 Circuit Training Workouts for Beginners.
6. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea.
Herbs like valerian root and chamomile have long been used as natural sleep aids.
7. Add more blankets.
Is there a sheet thief in your bed? If one of you inevitably ends up wrapped in all the sheets while the other shivers, switch to using a separate top sheet for each side of the bed.
Meditation eases the body into relaxation mode by stimulating the parasympathetic reaction, which is the opposite of the natural fight-or-flight response. Try the gentle poses and deep breathing in Evening Yoga for Relaxation.
9. Keep the noise down.
Barking dogs, city traffic, and, yes, even trains, for some of us. Mask sleep-disrupting noises by wearing earplugs or using a white noise machine or a fan.
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