Do you ever feel like no matter how much sleep you get, it's never quite enough? If so, you're not alone.
According to experts, one in three adults don't get enough sleep. Poor sleep quality can have a negative effect on your overall health and well-being, from physical fatigue to mental exhaustion.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to encourage quality sleep — and it all starts with good sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene is a set of practices that can help you get better, more restful sleep. Good sleep hygiene aims to create an environment that supports your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Restorative sleep is the type of sleep that helps your body and mind recover from the day. It's important because it allows the body to restore energy, repair tissues, and promote healthy brain function.
When you don't get enough restorative sleep, it can cause symptoms like mood swings, memory issues, a weakened immune system, and more. Needless to say, high-quality sleep is critical for your health and well-being.
Experts agree that adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night to ensure restorative sleep. However, the amount of sleep needed varies from person to person. For example, if you're an athlete or someone who works out regularly, you may need more sleep than the average person to support your body's recovery.
Additionally, age plays a role in how much sleep you need. For instance, women over 40 tend to need more sleep to support the hormone changes that come with menopause. Those under 20 may also require more sleep to support proper growth and development.
If you're not sure how much sleep you need, talk with your doctor. They can help determine the right amount of sleep for you based on your lifestyle and health needs.
Getting enough sleep is just one part of the equation. If you want to get the most out of your sleep, practicing good sleep hygiene is also important. Here are ten ways you can help encourage easy sleep.
Your bedroom should be a soothing sanctuary that promotes relaxation and sleep. Start by ensuring that your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive, and invest in high-quality bedding that is soft and breathable, such as cotton or linen. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet by using blackout curtains, a fan, or a white noise machine.
Next, consider the colors and decor in your bedroom. Opt for calming colors like soft blues, greens, and grays. Keep clutter to a minimum and remove any items that can create stress, such as work-related materials or electronic devices.
Relaxing elements like soft lighting, calming scents, and cozy blankets can also help create a peaceful atmosphere that can encourage you to drift off to sleep.
Physical activity can also help encourage easy, restful sleep. Aim to get at least thirty minutes of exercise per day, ideally in the morning or afternoon rather than right before bedtime. Studies suggest that aerobic exercise can help promote better sleep, although light stretching and yoga can also be helpful.
Regular exercise can help regulate your body's natural circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock that tells you when it's time to wake up and fall asleep. Exercise can also help soothe feelings of stress, which is key for a restful night's sleep.
It’s generally recommended to avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks in the late afternoon or evening. The effects of caffeine can last up to eight hours after you drink it — so even if you don't feel the effects right away, it can still interfere with your sleep.
Similarly, while a glass of wine or beer may make you sleepy at first, alcohol can disrupt the quality of your sleep and make it harder to stay asleep throughout the night. If you want consistent sleep, try to avoid consuming alcohol close to bedtime and limit yourself to one to two drinks per day.
Eating heavy meals right before it's time to hit the hay can contribute to heartburn and indigestion, making it harder to sleep soundly. If you do feel hungry right before bed, opt for light snacks like a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit. Try to avoid sugary snacks and processed foods, as they can cause an energy crash that may interfere with falling asleep.
Try to eat your last meal at least two hours before bedtime. This gives your body enough time to digest the food and can help you fall asleep faster.
Developing a consistent pre-bedtime routine can help to soothe feelings of stress and prepare your body for sleep. Your routine could include activities such as taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, reading a book, or writing in a journal.
If you can, try to avoid screens, such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, before bed, as the blue light emitted from these devices can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle. You can also support your circadian rhythm by establishing a regular bedtime and waking up at a consistent time each day, even on weekends.
Hormones such as melatonin, cortisol, and growth hormone play a key role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, it may be a sign that these hormones are out of balance.
It’s important to see your doctor if you suspect a hormonal imbalance could be causing your sleep problems. Common symptoms that could indicate a hormonal imbalance include fatigue, night sweats, and difficulty concentrating.
Difficulty sleeping is also one of the most common symptoms of menopause due to fluctuating hormone levels. During this time of transition, other symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes can also affect a woman’s sleep quality.
If you’re currently in menopause or perimenopause, you may also want to consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is a medical treatment that involves replacing or supplementing your body's natural hormones, which may help ease those uncomfortable symptoms.
If you’re interested in HRT, book a consultation with one of our board-certified providers to see if it’s the right option for you. We know how overwhelming menopause can feel, so let us walk with you every step of the way.
Exposing yourself to natural light during the day is also essential for regulating your circadian rhythm. Try to get outside for at least 15 minutes each day, either by taking a walk or simply sitting in the sun (with SPF, of course).
Natural light can help reset your internal clock, informing your body when it's time to wake up and when it's time to wind down for the night.
Believe it or not, naps can support alertness and energy levels. However, if you're having trouble sleeping at night, it's best to keep your naps short and aim for no more than 30 minutes at a time. Napping for too long can interfere with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle and may make it harder to fall asleep at night.
It's important to avoid activities that could be mentally stimulating right before bedtime. This means you may want to save stressful tasks, like studying for exams or watching an intense movie, for the daytime. Instead, opt for calming and relaxing activities, such as reading a book or listening to soothing music.
Meditation or breathing exercises can also help ease feelings of stress before bed.
Last but not least, if you've been lying in bed for more than 20 minutes without being able to fall asleep, you may want to get up and do something else. Don't lie in bed feeling frustrated and stressed — this might make it harder to fall asleep. Instead, find a calming activity to do in another room until you feel sleepy again.
At the end of the day, getting a good night's sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Developing healthy sleep habits can be difficult, but it's well worth the effort.
If you’re experiencing hormonal changes that are making it hard to fall asleep, you may find relief with hormone replacement therapy. At Thrivelab, we specialize in helping women achieve freedom and comfort through bioidentical HRT. Learn more to see if Thrivelab is right for you.