Experts recommend 8-9 hours of sleep per night, though many fall short of this goal.
Not getting enough sleep can lead to moodiness and mental fatigue, but it doesn't stop there. Getting insufficient sleep can also affect metabolism, stress levels, memory, and even how genes are expressed in the body.
Here are 20 simple steps to falling asleep and staying asleep, a necessity for good health:
1. Don't look at your phone or watch TV before bed. The blue light from the screen tricks your brain and makes it harder to sleep.
2. Embrace a little white noise. Using an app that provides white noise or simply turning on a fan will block out other noises from the outside that affect sleep quality.
3. Exercise early in the day. The body needs physical activity to get the best, restorative sleep, but it needs to be done several hours before bedtime. Otherwise, the body will be too ramped up to sleep soundly.
4. Cool the room down. It is much easier to sleep when the room temperature is right around 70 degrees.
5. Don't drink too much water in the couple of hours leading up to bedtime. By reducing the need to get up and pee in the middle of the night, more restful sleep can take place.
6. Avoid sources of caffeine after lunch, including coffee, soda, and chocolate.
7. Clean the mattress. Over time, dust, sweat, and mites can overtake the mattress, serving as allergens. Deep clean the mattress and cover it to promote easier breathing.
8. Be smart about naps. Quick catnaps are great for productivity throughout the day, but resting too long will make it more difficult to sleep at night.
9. Meditate. Taking time to clear the mind will prevent time spent obsessing over trivial things, reducing the ability to sleep.
10. Block out distractions. If outside noise or light is preventing restful sleep, invest in thicker curtains and ear plugs to get more rest.
11. Don't use the bed for anything except sleep and sex. This trains the brain to associate the bed with a place to wind down.
12. Don't let pets sleep in the bed. This may be hard for some, but pets encroaching on your personal space cuts into the amount of restful sleep you get, and their dander can trigger allergies.
13. Be wary of alcoholic drinks. While getting boozed up will help a person fall asleep, they aren't likely to stay asleep all night.
14. Get comfortable. Use body pillows to position the body in a more comfortable manner, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
15. Dim the lights well before bedtime. Low levels of light signal the brain that it is time to start slowing down and prepare for bed.
16. Don't smoke. Nicotine is a stimulant and will affect your body much like caffeine.
17. Don't eat a lot before bed. A light snack is fine, but choosing a snack that is really heavy or greasy will cause digestive problems during the night, reducing sleep quality.
18. Breathe deep. Taking slow, steady breaths is a good way to calm the body down, and get ready to snooze.
19. Buy a new pillow. A good pillow should hold the head in alignment with the spine. One that is too fluffy or too flat will cause a stiff neck and prevent good sleep.
20. Start a routine. Going to bed and waking up at set times on a regular basis will make sleep come easier, along with feeling more well-rested in the morning.
Tried all these and still have trouble sleeping? It may be time to see a doctor, as the insomnia could reflect a larger medical condition.
Know someone who could benefit from these tips? Pass it on!