By Jae Curtis, Lifestyle Expert
Find yourself tossing and turning at night? You’re not alone: according to the American Sleep Association, between 50 million and 70 million Americans struggle with a sleep disorder. And even if you don’t have a sleep disorder, the occasional bad night’s sleep can still take a toll on your body. Those telltale dark circles under your eyes make you look tired, but it’s also the decrease in cognition and focus that can really cause problems.
You’ve probably heard most of the common fixes that are meant to help you get more sleep, from turning off your smartphone to making your room dark and quiet. And if that fails, you might see your doctor for a prescription medication to help you get the rest you need. But some of the best sleep advice isn’t always the most obvious. Try some of these surprising tips and you could be sleeping better… tonight!
Write a List
If you stay awake at night stressing over your to-do list or trying to remember important ideas or events, keep a notebook by your bed. You can jot down anything that is bothering you or that you need to remember so you’ll pick up where you left off come morning time. It’s an instant way to calm your mind and help prep your brain for better sleep.
Snack on Bananas
Try this simple trick: eat a banana as a snack 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Not only does it contain tryptophan, an amino acid that causes sleepiness, it’s also packed with potassium. A low potassium intake is often responsible for restless legs syndrome, so a banana is a perfectly portioned snack to help you drift off to sleep.
Throw Out Your Clock
OK, you don’t have to throw your clock in the garbage, but you might want to put it where it’s less visible to you. Watching the clock (and calculating all the sleep you’re not getting) is a surefire way to keep you stressed and anxious when you should be calmly prepping for bed. You can still use an alarm if you need to get up, but store your clock so you’re less likely to check the time.
Try Patterned Breathing
Mindful breathing is similar to meditation. It can slow your brain and your heart rate so your body enters a restful state. What’s more, it’s simple and a great way to focus a racing mind. Start by breathing in for four counts. Then hold your breath for seven counts and then exhale for eight counts. Continue the cycle and you’ll be asleep in no time.
Adjust Your Thermostat
You might love cozying up in a warm bed, but overheating might actually keep you awake and uncomfortable at night. Try adjusting your thermostat to no more than 68 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum sleeping conditions. Or try swapping out your cotton sheets for something less likely to hold body heat, such as satin. Keeping your cool could be what helps you fall asleep and stay asleep all night long.
Everyone struggles with sleeplessness now and again, but it doesn’t need to be a long-term problem. Changing your schedule and better sleep habits can make a difference in the long run, but if you need better sleep tonight, try thinking outside the usual tricks and you could be just a few minutes away from a great night’s sleep.