Today’s Solutions: May 31, 2023

Stress is one of the biggest factors that inhibit healthy sleep patterns. Managing a new schedule under anxious conditions can make life feel a little upside down right now. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you’re definitely not alone. One study by the CDC found that one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep each night, and that was before COVID-19 had us all more on edge than usual.

Here are some of our best strategies for a better and longer night’s rest.

  1. Reduce stress and stay calm. Easier said than done, but reducing stress in your daily life will make falling asleep easier. Meditation, yoga, journaling, a home workout, or a creative project are all great tools for reducing anxiety. 
  2. Cut down on caffeine and nicotine. That afternoon cup of coffee may feel like the only thing getting you through a remote workday, but stimulants in the afternoon can take a toll on our sleep. If you’re feeling sluggish, try a brisk walk, big glass of water, or decaf herbal tea.
  3. Turn off your screens. Remote workspaces have most of us using screens more than ever. Commit to turning screens off at least an hour before bedtime and try reading, knitting, or coloring instead. This will also cut out the inundation of news that can keep our brains racing as we try to drift off. Read the news to stay informed, but not right before bed.
  4. Create a sleep routine. Keeping a steady bedtime schedule will train your brain and your body’s circadian rhythms to know when it’s time for sleep. Maybe this looks something like turning off screens, taking a bath, reading for a while, and then lights off. Whatever form your bedtime routine takes, try to keep it steady night after night.
  5. No alcohol an hour before bed. While many people use alcohol to help them relax, it also interrupts REM cycles which are responsible for making you feel rested. Try to limit alcohol consumption at least an hour before bed. 
  6. Increase your melatonin levels. This natural hormone tells our body it’s time for sleep as it starts to get dark, but interruptions like screens and artificial light can throw your melatonin levels out of order. Try drinking naturally melatonin-rich cherry juice before bed or consult your doctor about taking an over-the-counter melatonin pill.
  7. Make your room the ideal sleep space. Our bodies sleep best in cool, quiet, dark, comfortable spaces. Get rid of as much light as possible, turn down your heater at night, and get pillows and sheets you love. Consider a noise machine if white noise helps you drift off.
  8. Relax. Don’t let stress about sleep keep you awake. We all relax in different ways. Maybe it’s a cup of chamomile tea or an audiobook that does the trick. Different techniques work for each of us, but try to pinpoint whatever it is that helps you soothe your mind before bed and practice it regularly. 

Lack of sleep reduces focus and energy levels and can even have detrimental long-term health effects. If you find yourself lying awake at night, try some of these techniques to get in the ideal six to eight hours you deserve!

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