The importance of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated. It is one of the keys to health and a productive life. On the other hand, the lack of sleep can result in a number of health issues, including high blood pressure, depression, memory problems and a weakened immune system. Experts say that most people need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. However, many people do not even come close to that amount. Some intentionally skimp on their sleep because they believe that productivity is more important than sleeping. Others have trouble sleeping because of a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. If you are experiencing inadequate sleep, here are five tips to help you gain a better night’s sleep:
1. Keep a Consistent Schedule
If you are like most people, your body and mind function better when you maintain a consistent schedule. To illustrate, think back to a time that you may have worked the late shift or suffered from jet lag. Chances are that the negative effects of losing sleep lingered on for a considerable amount of time. To gain a better night’s sleep, try going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. Avoid sleeping late on weekends, holidays and other days off. Don’t be surprised, though, if these efforts take some time to produce positive results as repetition is required in order to learn new habits.
2. Avoid Long Naps
If you are not sleeping well at night, it might seem like a good idea to nap during the day. However, long daytime naps can keep you awake at night. If you are severely deprived of sleep, a nap might be necessary in order to keep going. In that case, try to keep the nap as short as possible. Set an alarm and limit yourself to a short nap of 30 minutes or less. If you need to nap, do so early and avoid naps late in the day, especially right before bedtime.
3. Sleep on a Good-Quality Mattress
There is no substitute for a good-quality mattress. However, what makes a mattress good or bad varies from person to person. For instance, people who suffer with sleep apnea often sleep on their back, which tends to block their air passages. Certain mattress characteristics, though, can make it easier for a person to sleep in the right position. If this applies to you, look for a mattress that is firm or medium firm because a too-soft or sagging mattress can cause you to toss and turn so that you end up on your back. Other features that could help you sleep in the correct position are memory foam and an adjustable base.
4. Be Careful What You Eat and Drink
Most people know to avoid coffee late in the day in order to sleep better that night. However, coffee is not the only drink that has high concentrations of caffeine. Energy drinks and some super-sized sodas also contain a large amount of caffeine. Conversely, certain foods can actually help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. These include almonds and walnuts, cottage cheese and fruit. Additionally, non-caffeine tea and warm milk are traditional bedtime drinks known to enhance sleep.
5. Improve Your Sleeping Environment
Although there are many things you can do to prepare for a good night’s sleep, none are more important than improving your sleeping environment. The place where you sleep should be your own private sanctuary where you can relax and unwind. It should have no distractions, such as loud noises or bright lights. The temperature and humidity level should also be conducive to sleeping. Most people sleep better when the humidity level is between 25 and 50 percent. If the air in your bedroom is too dry, you may want to invest in a humidifier because the amount of moisture in the air can affect your breathing while you are asleep.