(StatePoint) Sleep is essential to good health. Unfortunately, over a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over time, sleep deprivation can take a toll on one’s overall wellness.
“Like air, water and food, sleep is like fuel for your body,” says Dr. Janet Kennedy, sleep specialist at Leesa, a mattress company on a mission to help consumers get better sleep.
Do you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? If you’re feeling more wired than tired at bedtime, it may be time to improve your sleep routine. Check out Dr. Kennedy’s suggestions for a better night’s rest:
• Cool down: If your first quiet moment to relax comes when you get into bed, your mind will race to try to get all its thinking done. Shut down phones and other devices at least one hour before bed and set an even earlier cutoff time for work. Much the way the body needs a cooldown period after exercise, your mind needs a cooldown period to process the day and unwind before transitioning into sleep mode.
• Make a routine: Bedtime routines are important, but they don’t have to be elaborate. It helps to create a series of steps to be done in a consistent order. This could include stretching, breathing exercises or journaling.
“I recommend keeping it simple and ending by reading fiction,” says Dr. Kennedy. “Reading is one of the most powerful sleep associations I have found. It gives the mind a place to go while the body settles down and tells you when it’s ready to sleep.”
• Create a sanctuary: Your bed should be a place you feel lucky to be. That means setting it up for ultimate comfort. No matter what type sleeper you are, your pillows and mattress should properly support and align the neck and spine so your body will relax quickly, instead of struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position. Temperature control is also important for drifting into sleep. Pillows and bedding should stay cool through the night. Look for a mattress designed to offer superior support as well as breathability and temperature regulation, such as those from Leesa. The brand also offers hybrid pillows made with fibers featuring a ventilated gel comfort layer. Customizable, they are designed to keep sleepers cool and comfortable.
• Don’t struggle: If you aren’t falling asleep as quickly as you want, or if you are struggling with insomnia, stop trying to fall asleep. The body knows how to sleep and will sleep when it’s ready. Wait until you are very sleepy before going to bed and then read, listen to an audio book, or do something quiet to distract your mind until sleep comes to you.
More resources about sleep are available at www.leesa.com.
Sleep is meant to restore the mind and body, not cause stress, so if you’re having trouble getting enough of it, it may be time to tweak your nighttime routine.