For a good night’s rest, people should stop eating about two to three hours before bed time, allowing the body enough time to digest, Wu said.
“When you eat foods high in sugar, carbs, and caffeine shortly before heading to bed, your metabolism is still working hard,” she said. “This keeps your body temperature higher than ideal for sleep, and potentially tricks your brain into not feeling the sleepiness it has accumulated….CONTINUE READING HERE
Yeh recommends avoiding caffeinated drinks before bedtime, too.
Drinking caffeinated beverages can make you go to sleep later, disrupt your sleep cycle, and negatively affect your sleep quality throughout the night. One study suggests that having caffeine three to six hours before bed contributed to sleep disturbance and reduced a person’s total sleep time by one hour.
If you can’t fall asleep, Wu recommends getting rid of distractions to help you wind down at night. For example,
avoid using your phone or tablet
to check emails, read the news, or scroll through social media.
When you avoid phones and televisions at night, you also reduce your exposure to the blue light that screens emit.
is not only harmful to your eyes, but can also prevent the production of a hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle, melatonin.
“If you like to wind down by using your devices or consuming media, try switching from TV and games to listening to an enjoyable podcast or audiobook,” said Wu. “This way, you get less light stimulation and it’s easier to wind down your mind.”
Experts also recommend doing calming activities that you enjoy before bed, like taking a warm bath, reading a book, meditating, engaging in breathing exercises, journaling/writing about your day and any thoughts you have, or
listening to soothing music
or audio stories.
According to Yeh, doing something that you enjoy that isalsocalming can help relax your mind and body.
To improve your quality of sleep, Wu said you need to have
the right sleep environment
. That means having a comfortable bed, enough blankets and pillows, and a bedroom that is quiet, dark, and cool.
Your sleep environment and temperature are unique to you, but if you’re looking for a rough guideline, the National Sleep Foundation recommends a bedroom temperature of 60–67 degrees.
“A lot of factors, including bedding, clothing, ventilation, body heat from a partner, and your own biology and age all influence your ideal sleep environment, and the ideal temperature range is different depending on these factors,” Wu said. “Protect your sleep environment and use tools like earplugs, eye masks, or consider sleeping separately from your bed partner—human or animal.”
Experts say it’s important to adjust your mentality about sleep. Going to bed shouldn’t feel like a burden or chore.
“It shouldn’t be a hassle to go to bed and it shouldn’t be a chore to go to sleep. Some people have become conditioned to staying awake because they no longer enjoy sleeping,” said Pelayo. “It’s not that youhaveto go to sleep—it’s that yougetto go to sleep. It’s a privilege to have a place to sleep and you should enjoy that you have a safe place to sleep.”
If you are having trouble sleeping, Yeh recommends seeking help from
a sleep specialist
sooner rather than later, especially because it can take weeks to months to get an appointment.
“I think the national average is about two months to see a sleep specialist, so it could be beneficial to call and put yourself on the waitlist first,” he said.
If you’re struggling to sleep, Yeh said you can try the various recommendations first—like avoiding screens, caffeine, and heavy meals before bed or engaging in calming activities such as meditation and journaling—and then see a specialist if none of the changes have helped.
If you find something that works for you and see an improvement in your sleep, you can always cancel your appointment with a specialist. Or you can keep your appointment to ask about ways to make further improvements.
“The most important thing for somebody who has trouble sleeping is to tell somebody about it,” said Pelayo. “We’re no longer in an age where there’s nothing that can be done. Most sleep disorders can be improved and all of these sleep-related problems are treatable.”
If you are struggling to fall asleep or wake up during the night, experts recommend making small changes in your lifestyle like avoiding caffeine and screens before bed to promote better sleep. If you don’t see an improvement after making lifestyle changes, consider making an appointment with a sleep specialist….CONTINUE READING HERE