Everyone knows that getting a good night’s sleep is important. It’s something you hear from the time you’re a small child, and by the time you’re an adult...well, when you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you feel it. Unfortunately, for entirely too many of us it’s a lot easier said than done. One in four people say they have trouble sleeping at night on a daily basis, and a full two thirds of Americans say they struggle with sleeping weekly.
The fact of the matter is, our modern lifestyles aren’t particularly conducive to a good night’s sleep. We work late hours, we eat and drink all kinds of sugar and caffeine filled stuff, we live in brightly lit indoor spaces, and we’re constantly staring into bright screens in our phones, our TVs, and our computers. Add in the stress of paying bills, work and family, and every other anxiety inducing part of life, and it can be a struggle to get to sleep at night. Luckily, there are some fairly simple things you can do to help improve the quality of your sleep every night.
The first and easiest way to improve your sleep is to try and get a more natural cycle of light into your life. Let’s face it, our brains and natural instincts just aren’t capable of keeping up with the pace of change in our lives, and humans didn’t evolve to live in dimly lit offices during the day and then face bright lights at night. So to boost your body’s natural sleep cycle, increase the amount of bright light, particularly sun light, during the daytime, and cut the amount of light (particularly blue light, which comes from screens like your phone and computer) you encounter at night. If you can’t get outside during the day, invest in a bright light bulb or device to mimic sunlight, and there are a number of apps available for both phones and computers to limit or block harmful blue light at night.
If that doesn’t work, your next best bet is to try and force your body into a set sleep cycle. While a short power nap, less than 30 minutes long, can help you refocus and recharge, sleeping longer than that during the daytime can negatively impact your ability to sleep at night. Similarly, waking up and going to sleep at different times throughout the week can hurt your ability to fall asleep, and the quality of that sleep. Sticking with a set sleep schedule, waking up and going to bed at the same time every single day (and that includes the weekend, no sleeping in) can help your body’s natural circadian rhythm to get into that routine. Giving your body a consistent pattern helps tell it exactly when to go to bed and wake up naturally, so you don’t have to fight to get to sleep, or struggle to wake up.
Finally, to help your body get into that kind of routine, a melatonin supplement can be a big help. Melatonin is a natural hormone that tells your brain that it’s bedtime, and when taken regularly in conjunction with a set sleep schedule, can help your body adjust to the sleep schedule you are trying to implement. You should start with a low dose, no more than 2 to 3 grams, and then ramp up as needed if you don’t see any impact after a few days to a week. Melatonin’s impact is gradual, so make sure you stick to the routine for at least a few days before increasing the dose.