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5 Strategies to Get a Better Night's Sleep

5 Strategies to Get a Better Night's Sleep

More than one-third of adults in the United States are not getting enough sleep, which is defined as 7-9 hours a night. While daytime grogginess is certainly one significant effect of insomnia, a chronic lack of sleep can also raise your risk of a host of issues that range from cardiovascular disease to mood disorders and anxiety.

Whether your lack of sleep is due to insomnia, stress, anxiety, or some other issue, there are ways you can get the restorative sleep that you need. To that end, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Matthew Goldenberg has assembled the following five strategies to help you get a better night’s sleep.

Why you need sleep

Before we get into sleep strategies, we want to underscore the importance of sleep, which is as crucial as proper nutrition for maintaining mental health and wellness.

When you sleep, your mind and body uses this time to:

At the end of the day, there is not any area of your body that doesn’t benefit from a great night’s sleep.

Steps toward great sleep

If you want to reap the benefits of great sleep, but you are falling short on sleep duration, there are a few tips that can be quite helpful, including:

1. Keep the same schedule and routine

One of the most important things you can do to encourage consistent sleep is to maintain the same schedule and routine. This means going to bed at the same time each night, as well as getting out of bed around the same time each morning. 

Create a bedtime routine that relaxes your body and mind when you are getting ready for sleep, such as a warm bath or shower. Or, try some deep breathing exercises or a guided meditation while you lie in bed and get ready for sleep. These soothing routines can help signal your body that it is time to sleep.

2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

Both caffeine and alcohol, especially close to bedtime, are extremely harmful for restorative sleep. Obviously, caffeine will keep you awake, so we suggest not taking in caffeine after 2:00-3:00pm. 

While alcohol may help you get to sleep, once the alcohol wears off during the night, you may find yourself awake again. Alcohol also makes it unlikely that you will enter the deeper and restorative stages of sleep. Ultimately, alcohol does not lead to any beneficial rest, so we suggest that you limit your intake to one or two drinks or, better yet, none at all.

3. Seek bright light during the day and limit blue light at night

Strong, bright light during the day signals your body to be more alert and energetic, and we urge you to get out and get some of this light. It is best to get exposure to natural light as early in the day as possible. This will also help you be more sleepy at night. 

But, your exposure to bright light, or blue light, should wind down in the evenings to encourage your body to stand down. Screens, such as your phone and TV, emit blue light that can signal your body to become more alert, so we suggest that you turn off all screens at least an hour before bed.

4. Improve your sleep environment

If you are struggling to sleep, take a good look around your bedroom to see where you can improve your environment. Perhaps it’s time to update your mattress and pillows. Or, maybe your bedroom temperature is too hot or too cold or too bright or too loud. We also suggest that you remove distractions from your bedroom, such as TV.

By creating a comfortable, quiet environment in your bedroom, you can fall and stay asleep more consistently. 

5. Seek help

If you still cannot get enough sleep after trying the strategies we outlined above, it is likely time to get a professional assessment. As a mental health specialist, Dr. Goldenberg has the training and experience with sleep disorders needed to understand the complexities of insomnia. He can work with you to identify the underlying issue(s) and tailor a plan to help you sleep better.

For help with your sleep disorder, you can begin with a free, 10-minute phone call with Dr. Goldenberg, who treats patients in both California and Alaska. Simply click here to get started.

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