Primary Author: Sabrina Hossain | Secondary Author: Esther Fires, NP Psychiatry
According to the CDC, 70 million Americans struggle with sleep issues. The cause of these sleep troubles can be caused by anxiety, trauma, insomnia, ADHD symptoms, and more. The American Psychological Association states that the pandemic exacerbated sleep disturbances for many. Here are some tips that can help you improve your sleep hygiene;
Establish a Nightly Routine
Having a consistent routine in place can help your mind and body prepare for sleep. Consistency is absolutely essential for better sleep quality. A study by the National Institutes of Health revealed participants with consistent sleep schedules had improved long-term sleep quality.
According to the New York Times, Journaling has been proven to be an effective and affordable calming technique. This method is helpful if you struggle with racing thoughts and anxiety. Putting all your thoughts and worries on paper helps ease the mind.
Only Use Your Bed to Sleep
One reason you might have trouble sleeping is that you use your bed as a workspace and watch TV late at night. This may be a hard transition if you are accustomed to using your bed for reasons other than sleeping, but making a habit of it will help you in the long run.
Avoid Screens Before Bedtime
To establish a healthy sleep schedule, it is important to avoid screen time about 1-2 hours before you go to sleep. Blue light that emits from our phones and laptops will disrupt our circadian rhythm. If you have work that needs to be done in the evenings, you can consider investing in blue light blocking glasses. While more studies need to be done on the effectiveness of these glasses, it is an option that is available. For those seeking more affordable options, you can download apps like f.lux to block blue light from your devices.
Engage in Relaxing Activities
Reading books, skincare regimen, caffeine-free tea are some things you can partake in to start preparing for sleep.
Exercise During the Day
Those with a more sedentary lifestyle may struggle with sleep because they are not more active during the day. Engaging in some form of movement during the day can help you improve your sleep quality.
Melatonin, L-theanine, and ashwagandha supplements are popular over-the- counter options for sleep. It is best to take melatonin 30 minutes to an hour before your preferred bedtime. L-theanine can be found in green and black tea. A study has found that the amino acid has led to greater sleep satisfaction. Researchers conducting a 2019 study have shown patients with insomnia see improvements after using ashwagandha.
Ask a Doctor for Help
If sleep disturbances continue to persist, it is best to contact your healthcare provider.
These are a few tips you can utilize to improve your sleep quality. It may take some time to establish a routine and build new habits when trying to work on getting more sleep so be patient. However, if you have exhausted all your options, it is best to see a doctor.