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Sweet Dreams

Mar/07/2023 / by Melanie Fourie
Cute brunette multiracial woman laying in her bed in striped pajamas and sleep mask, top view, Girl looking flirty at the camera and relaxing. Stock photo

5 natural ways to improve your sleep

Mid-March ushers in the National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep Awareness Week, so there’s no better time to refocus on how your sleep (or lack thereof) might be affecting your health. Not getting enough nightly rest can cause everything from dark under-eye circles, to difficulty focusing, to the inability to finish simple chores. But certain habits can help; here’s a few sleep-enhancing strategies to try tonight:

1. Maintain a Steady Routine
A regular sleep-wake schedule teaches the body’s “internal clock” to anticipate when it’s time to nap and awaken. If you want to prevent feeling exhausted on Monday, keep your weekend napping routine as close to normal as feasible. 

2. Create Relaxing Bedtime Habits
Take a hot bath or relax via deep breathing exercises before bed. Avoid anything distracting or stressful. The stress hormone cortisol is released in response to anxiety, and it is linked to a heightened state of alertness. Be sure to avoid caffeinated drinks 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. 

3. Button-Up Your Boudoir
Sound sleep can be encouraged by a setting that is dark, cool, and peaceful. Reduce ambient sounds with earphones or “white noise.” Use an eye mask, blackout blinds, or thick draperies to obstruct light, a strong signal that informs the brain it’s time to awaken. The area should be well ventilated and kept at a comfortable temperature. Get yourself the correct pillows, bed, and mattress for optimal orthopedic comfort.

4. Treat Sleep Apnea
If you’re finding yourself waking up in the middle of the night, or finding yourself extra tired during the day even when you think you’ve slept well, sleep apnea may be to blame. The condition causes respiration to stop and restart, so it’s important to see a doctor if you suspect it might be affecting you. 

5. Work It Out
People with severe sleeplessness who begin routine exercise can fall asleep quicker and remain asleep for longer in as little as a month, according to the Sleep Foundation. They also found that exercise was just as efficient as medications in alleviating sleeplessness. 

Brightly lit isolated image on white background of an Asian young woman with black and long hair in white spaghetti strap top. She is lying or sleeping on white bed and pillow with closed eyes and listening songs with earphones on through a smart phone. Horizontal composition with copy space at aperture f/2.

Sidebar: Sleep Stats
If you struggle to slumber, you’re not alone—here’s some of the top negative impacts on people’s sleep according to the National Sleep Foundation’s annual poll results:

  • Nearly half of people say they aren’t exposed to the recommended levels of bright light when indoors in the morning and afternoon.
  • Four in 10 people eat meals at inconsistent times, making it more difficult for their bodies to regulate the sleep and wake process.
  • More than half of people indulge in screen time within an hour before bed or even while in bed.
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