Are you having trouble with insomnia? While everyone doesn’t need the same amount of sleep, most adults need between seven to nine hours of shuteye per night. As you get older, you may get tired earlier and wake up earlier, but you still need the same amount of sleep.
“Sleep is essential for your physical and mental well-being,” says Lon Manson, MD, a family medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo. “Adequate sleep helps restore your energy, boost your mood, lower your blood pressure and produce hormones that help build muscle, repair cells and tissue, fight infection and control appetite.”
Untreated insomnia can lead to significant health issues, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and issues with memory.
Making some simple changes to your lifestyle and daily habits can halt sleepless nights and help your body get the rest you need.
Caffeine is a stimulant and can stay in your system for up to eight hours. Limit yourself to one caffeinated drink early in the day.
“Not being active enough during the day can make it harder for you to sleep at night, regular exercise can help you sleep better,” says Dr. Manson.
Don’t exercise too close to bedtime however, or you may feel too alert to doze off. Aim to finish your workout about three to four hours before you go to bed.
Eating a heavy or spicy meal too close to bedtime can cause discomfort from indigestion and make it hard to drift off to sleep. Have dinner earlier in the evening and a light snack before bed if you are hungry, such as a few crackers or toast with a nut butter.
Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. While it might be tempting to sleep in on the weekends, this can throw off the body’s natural clock, making it more difficult to get to sleep later in the night.
Noises such as nearby traffic, dogs barking or a dripping faucet can chip away at your rest. If there are noises you can’t avoid during the night, try earplugs, a fan or a white-noise machine or app on your mobile device.
Blue wavelength light from digital devices, including phones, tablets and computers, keeps us alert, and inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone needed for sleep.
“Turn off all your devices about an hour before bedtime,” says Dr. Manson. “If you do choose to use technology during that hour, keep it 14 inches from your face and dim the brightness to reduce the blue light and increase the natural melatonin release.”
During the last hour before bedtime, start winding down and engage in an activity that is relaxing. Try a warm bath, meditating, listening to music or reading.