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Eight Ways to Get Some Better Shut-Eye

Posted December 29, 2022 by Julie Sich, MS ATC, Director of Quality Improvement and Provider Engagement

Julie Sich

When it comes to catching your zzzs, quality is just as important as quantity.

The average adult should get between seven to nine hours of sleep every night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But even if you’re sleeping an adequate amount of time each night, if you don’t reach a deep enough stage of sleep, you won’t feel well-rested and refreshed in the morning.

Getting a quality night’s sleep means falling asleep after 10 to 15 minutes and sleeping soundly through the night with no more than one awakening. Poor sleep quality can be characterized by trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, restlessness and early awakenings. Waking up frequently in the night can prevent you from reaching critical stages of sleep.

To increase the quality of your sleep, practicing good sleep habits to improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep is key. Your behaviors during the day, especially right before bedtime, can have a major impact on your sleep quality.

SummaCare offers 8 ways to improve the quality of your sleep so you can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day. What’s more, a good night’s rest improves your physical and mental health to help you live a longer, healthier life.

Be consistent: Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up around the same time every morning — even on weekends. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Also, be sure you set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Establish a relaxing bedtime routine: Include calming activities in your bedtime routine, such as taking a bath or doing relaxation techniques, to prepare your body and mind for a good night’s rest.

Use caution with naps: If you nap for too long or too late in the day, it can interfere with your sleep schedule and make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. If you must, the best time to nap is in the early afternoon and only for about 20 minutes. You’ll feel refreshed without affecting your nightly sleep schedule.

Create a calming environment: Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and at a comfortable temperature for sleeping. Consider room-darkening shades, ear plugs or a fan to create a relaxing environment that suits you. These practices will help develop a strong mental association between bed and sleep.

Make the bedroom electronic-free: Remove electronic devices, including TVs, computers and smart phones, from the bedroom — or at least turn them off 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light that electronics emit stimulates the brain and can suppress production of melatonin, making it more difficult to turn off your brain and fall asleep.

Be mindful about what you eat and drink before bedtime: Don’t go to bed hungry or the other extreme: a full stomach. Being uncomfortable can keep you awake. Also, don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before bedtime, as chemicals in these substances can interfere with either falling asleep or staying asleep.

Exercise regularly: Yes, surprisingly, being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. Just be sure you’re not too active right before bedtime. Exercise can relieve stress and anxiety, and tire you out — all things that can help you fall and stay asleep.

Exercising outdoors is even better to promoting superior sleep because natural light helps your body establish a good sleep-wake cycle.

Manage worries: Try to resolve your worries or stressors before bedtime to promote better sleep. Incorporate meditation, journal what’s on your mind, or talk to a close friend or partner. If you’re stressed, try stress management techniques, such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks.   

In today’s fast-paced world, sleep often takes a back seat. But what you may not realize is, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, sleep is one of the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle. It’s true, you can’t achieve optimal health without catching your zzzs each and every night.

If you’re struggling to get a good night’s rest on a consistent basis, contact your primary care provider for advice. There could be an underlying condition causing your restless nights.