We all have different health goals, but if there’s one thing most of us can agree on, it’s that getting more and better sleep is always ideal. Getting enough shuteye is one of the main pillars of human health, and without it, you’re more likely to experience serious medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes. You’re also more likely to feel anxious, depressed, and irritable, which can cause problems in your professional or home life.
Despite it being a basic necessity for life, we don’t talk about the importance of quality sleep nearly enough. Fortunately, National Sleep Awareness Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at your sleep habits to see if there’s anything you can change. Whether it’s cutting back on caffeine or establishing a regular bedtime schedule, there are plenty of ways you can celebrate National Sleep Awareness Week and boost your sleep in the process.
National Sleep Awareness Week is an annual event and an initiative created by the National Sleep Foundation. Its primary aim is to promote healthy sleep habits to help people improve their mental and physical health. This year’s Sleep Awareness Week is March 13th to 19th, and it will feature a national campaign and volunteer-organized events that educate individuals on the importance of sleep and help them explore strategies for getting better rest.
To make the most of National Sleep Awareness Week, why not take the time to re-evaluate your sleep quality and find ways to make it better? Let’s take a look at three effective ways you can start improving your sleep today.
Following a regular sleep schedule helps maintain the timing of your body’s internal clock. That means you’re more likely to fall asleep and wake up more easily. A regular sleep schedule also improves overall sleep quality and has been linked to improvements in physical and mental wellness. Additionally, most experts agree that adults need about eight to ten hours of sleep per night, and one of the best ways to make sure you meet that goal is to follow a structured sleep schedule.
Creating a regular sleep schedule for yourself isn’t as difficult as it may sound. To get started, simply set a regular bedtime and wake time for yourself and commit to it. For example, if you need to be up and moving by 7 a.m. to make it to work on time, you should aim to be in bed by 10:30 p.m. at the latest. That way, you’ll get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Experts also recommend sticking to your sleep schedule on the weekends. Although it might be tempting to stay up late and sleep in, maintaining the same sleep schedule all seven days of the week will help your body know when it’s time to go to sleep and wake up.
Getting regular exercise will help you fall asleep more quickly and improve your overall sleep quality. Although researchers don’t fully understand how physical activity improves sleep, they do know that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep (or deep sleep) you get. Getting enough deep sleep is crucial because that’s when your brain and body repair themselves. Exercise can also help you cope with stress and stabilize your mood, which can ease the transition into restful sleep.
However, aerobic exercise also makes your body release endorphins, which can keep you awake. So, it’s best to avoid exercising for one to two hours before you go to bed. Doing so will give your body time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
One of the best perks of making this lifestyle change is that you don’t have to wait months to see an improvement in your sleep quality. If you squeeze in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise today, you’re likely to see improvements in your sleep quality tonight.
Chronic stress or anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep at night, leading to restless nights and ongoing fatigue. Fortunately, you can use healthy mindful habits to lower your stress levels and get more restful sleep. If stress is keeping you up at night, try one of the following techniques to get relief.
You can also focus on decreasing your stress levels during the day by cutting back on nonessential daily tasks, eating a nutritious and balanced diet, and seeking the help of a counselor or therapist.
Night after night of sleep disturbances can have lasting negative consequences. Even if you’re constantly busy with life’s demands or your schedule makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep, making small, simple changes to your sleep habits can dramatically improve your sleep health and overall well-being.
An occasional poor night of sleep won’t harm your health, but an ongoing lack of rest or poor quality sleep can cause serious medical problems.
For example, you’re more likely to experience:
If you’ve had months of sleep disruptions, you’ve built up a significant sleep deficit, and it will take your mind and body time to recover. Getting an extra hour or two of sleep whenever you can will help you do that. Over time, you’ll start feeling better, and your quality of life will improve.
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To get started, take our expert-designed sleep quiz to learn more about your sleep problems and what’s causing them.