Sleep problems are becoming a common feature of today’s world, and experts suggest this is a result of hectic schedules and poor pre-sleep preparation. A lack of sleep can cause everything from drowsiness and lack of productivity at work to car accidents with risks akin to drunk driving. If you suffer from sleep disturbances, you can take a proactive approach to improve the quality of your night’s sleep. Small changes in nighttime rituals, evening snacking and scheduled activities can help you wind down more effectively after a day’s work. If you implement these tips, you will see an improvement in the length and quality of your sleep.

Difficulty Falling Asleep

Problems falling asleep are usually due to a number of simple causes. Individuals may consume caffeine in the form of coffee or cola drinks that keep them awake. Exercising too late in the evening can also stimulate your circulation enough to keep you awake. Try exercising earlier in the evening to prevent the stimulating effects of exercise that can last well into the night. Sleep experts also recommend shutting down all of your electronic devices several hours before sleep. The screens of these devices emit blue light, which affects sleep hormones, which can upset your ability to fall easily into sleep.

Waking During the Night

Frequent waking during the night can cause severe drowsiness during the day. It can also cause irritability and low mood. If the need to go to the bathroom causes you to wake during the night, limit your fluid intake after 6 p.m. Avoid eating heavy foods in the evening, which make your digestive system work harder during the night. Check your sleep environment for noises that might wake you during light sleep periods. Earplugs may be necessary to help you avoid sounds from the refrigerator, traffic or other noise.

Light Sleeping

Some people find they spend a large portion of the night in state of semi-wakefulness, only slipping in and out of a deep sleep state periodically. This problem can often occur when someone is under a great deal of stress, and the problems of the day continue to disturb him or her when they try to sleep at night. Sleep experts recommend developing rituals before bedtime to help you prepare for your body’s downtime. Turn off the TV to relax your mind and emotions. Set out your clothing for the next day. Read for a short period. If stress is a serious problem, learn to meditate to relax your body and your mind for healthy sleep.

Waking Up Too Early

Some individuals find that they wake up too early, and then have difficulty getting through the day without intense fatigue. Sleep experts suggest using brighter-than-normal light for a few hours before your sleep time to help “re-set” your body clock. You can also try taking a small dose of melatonin, a natural sleep hormone, to lengthen your sleep periods.

Quality sleep is critical for concentration, mood regulation and high productivity. When your sleep cycles are disturbed, you can even experience such disturbing effects, such as weight gain and more frequent accidents. Take the time to look closely at your sleep habits. You can alter your habits to ensure that you can relax sufficiently to allow you to get a good night’s sleep

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