3 Ways to Get Better Sleep Starting Tonight
Author: Beth Lipton, Sleep Expert
If you have trouble sleeping, you’re not alone: Even before the pandemic, experts at the Centers for Disease Control estimate that more than one-third of adults in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep.
And between 50 and 70 million adults in the U.S. report having a sleep disorder, like insomnia, sleep apnea, or snoring–and that’s just what’s reported.
And yet, we all know consistent quality sleep is critical to our health. We need 7 to 9 hours of good sleep every night. Without it, our immunity is compromised, cravings for unhealthy food are greater and harder to resist, our work performance suffers, creativity and focus are blunted. Libido is decreased (yikes!). And, over time, we increase our risk for chronic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes, heart disease, mood disorders and overall shorter lifespan.
In short: We don’t just feel better after a good night’s sleep. We live better.
Luckily, there are things we can do every day to help us sleep better. Here are 3 that you can start doing today.
Manage light exposure.
Get some light into your eyes first thing upon waking (sunlight, if possible–but if not, a bright indoor light). And at night, dim the lights after dinner and shut down screens at least an hour before bed. Light in our eyes signals to the brain that it’s time to either wake and be alert or wind down and sleep. In our modern world, with light all day and night and our devices, those signals get blocked, making it harder for us to sleep as we need to.
Set up your room for sleep.
Heat can interrupt sleep, so best to make your space cool–ideally between 60 and 72ºF. Make sure it’s dark; invest in blackout shades, if needed. Keep your phone out of your room to avoid the light and any notifications or buzzing. Be sure your room is quiet–and if you can’t, because you live on a busy street or there’s other noise, get a white noise machine. Consistent sound is better than sudden noises. Treat yourself to a comfortable matte\ress and bedding.
Avoid caffeine after noon.
If you’re thinking, “I can have an espresso and go right to sleep,” you actually can’t. Even if you’re able to fall asleep, chances are your sleep quality will be disrupted. Caffeine can have long-lasting effects, up to 8 to 10 hours, and even beyond for some people. If you love your morning coffee, have it–just enjoy it before noon. Remember that non-herbal teas, decaf coffee and many sodas also have caffeine, so those are to be avoided after noon, too.
We hope you enjoyed these easy tips from Beth Lipton. If you want to learn even more about how to get better sleep, join her on Tuesday, April 13th at 4:00 PM EST for her session during our Wellness Week! Sign up here now!
Beth Lipton is a Brooklyn-based health coach, recipe developer, food/wellness writer, and cookbook author. She’s a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute health-supportive culinary school and studied health coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her recipes and writing have appeared in Clean Eating, Well+Good, Health, Paleo magazine, FoodNetwork.com, Epicurious, Furthermore, Travel + Leisure and others. Follow her on Instagram for recipes, product reviews and more