Sleeping too little, too much, or barely at all? Sleep problems have surged thanks to disrupted routines, too much screen time, and dissolving boundaries between work and home life. Whatever the reason, not getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep can set you up for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and other physical and mental problems. The good news: You can start regulating your sleep now to reap the benefits of solid sleep for better well-being. Try these tips:
Stick to a daytime routine that includes exercise, regular mealtimes, and exposure to sunlight—all help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm.
Establish a good sleep/wake cycle. Go to bed around the same time each night, but not until you feel sleepy. Wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends and vacations.
If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed. Turn to a quiet activity without a lot of light exposure, but be sure to avoid using light-emitting electronic devices, such as such as smartphones, that can delay sleep onset.
If possible, avoid associating your bedroom with wakefulness. Don’t work, watch TV or use other digital entertainment in bed.
Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex only. If this is not feasible because your bedroom has become a multipurpose activity center during these challenging times, aim to leave it for extended periods when possible.
Keep the bedroom on the cool side, dark and quiet. Use a white noise machine and room-darkening shades or a light-blocking eye mask.
Start a worry journal. If ruminating thoughts keep you up, write them down before bed so they are kept “in their place” and not in your head. If possible, jot down a solution to what’s concerning you.
Sleep with your neck in a neutral position. Bending it in any way, such as from lying on a too soft or too firm pillow, can be uncomfortable, awakening you or producing pain.
Despite following these suggestions, if sleep problems persist, talk to your healthcare practitioner.