According to the American Sleep Association, about 50 to 70 million adults in the U.S. have trouble getting sleep. There are many types of sleep disorders, and they affect a large number of people. There are a lot of health conditions that could develop if you don’t get the normal 7 – 9 hours of sleep that’s needed for adults, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. And that is not the full extent of it.
We discussed this with Colin Espie, Professor of Sleep Medicine, about discovering some key bedtime routines to do if you cannot sleep. Espie shares some great advice on getting good quality sleep.
1 — Establish a more personalized sleep routine
It’s important to have a personalized sleep schedule. Espie says, “Take some time to experiment with and find out your body’s natural rhythms. Having to Force yourself to go to sleep early or stay up extra late when it gives you an unnatural feeling is counterproductive and could cause stress and make your sleep problems worse.”
2 — Be more efficient in sleeping
Working on sleep efficiency is important. Espie said, “Are you lying in bed for nine hours, but only actually sleeping six? If so, your sleep efficiency is around 66% and could really use some improvement. If you are getting frustrated by actively attempting and failing to fall asleep, then get out of bed, and perform a relaxing, non-stimulating activity like reading a book or meditating before you get back in bed and try again. And if you are naturally waking up at 5:00 am feel rested, you should feel more empowered to get up and begin your day. As your sleep efficiency rises, you’ll get good insight into what your personalized sleeping schedule is.”
3 — Focus on how you could nurture productive sleep
Try to focus on ways you can nurture a productive sleep cycle. Espie says, “Put the day to rest! By spending 10 mins or so in the afternoon tying up some loose ends from the day—such as creating a list of everything you should do tomorrow—you could quiet your racing mind and fall asleep even faster. This is a great example of a cognitive-behavioral therapy for having insomnia, which has been scientifically proven to help you get better sleep.”
Create a routine to help you wind down at nighttime. This is an extra behavioral approach that might work, Espie reveals. The routine could be any one technique or even a combination of things, including a reduction of blue light, breathing exercises and purposely relaxing when you are snuggled up under the covers. Listening to soft music or calming sounds may relax you. It is beneficial to test out various ways that may work best for you.