We think fondly of it, we all want it – why is it so hard to find? We’re talking about sleep, of course. A poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60% of adults report having trouble sleeping almost every night, with 63% saying their sleep needs are not being met.
Like water, a healthy diet, and breathing, sleep is essential to support every part of your health. Sleep is when our bodies rest, repair, and run a lot of self-maintenance. Studies show that not getting enough sleep can harm your memory, your heart health, your immune system, and make you gain excess weight.
Sometimes sleep loss is a real medical issue that needs to be treated by a doctor (your Portland dentist can help with sleep apnea). But if you’re just dealing with the common troubles of settling down and enjoying your sleep, we’ve got sleep tips that are all easy to incorporate into your life…starting tonight!
Set the Tone
Think of everything you do to set the right tone for a dinner party or even a study session. Every event needs some preparation. You can do a lot of little things to immediately make your environment more conducive for sleeping:
- Turn your phone off
- Dim the lights
- Clean up if it will make you feel better
- Light a candle
- Use blackout shades to keep out any remaining sun or street light
- Lower the air conditioning to 65-68 degrees
- Write a to-do list for the morning so you can stop thinking about ongoing tasks and let your mind rest
Make the Time
When it comes to sleep, timing is everything. Yes, you need to find about 8 hours each night when you can actually close your eyes. But just as important is the hour you spend before going to bed, as well as the time you wake up. If you want to sleep better:
- Start winding down at the same time each night.
- Try to be in bed with lights out at the same time each night.
- Wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
Doing this naturally guides your circadian rhythm—the important hormones that direct your body clock for sleeping and waking over 24 hours. This will teach your body to expect sleep at a certain time and to actually be ready for it.
Establish a Routine
Harness the power of psychology and classical conditioning. Remember Pavlov’s dogs? Use the same stimulus to trigger your mind and body that it’s bedtime each night. For many children, even the first line of their bedtime song will trigger a yawn. You can trigger sleepiness for yourself by lighting the same candle, playing the same song, brushing and flossing your teeth and putting your pajamas on in the same order each night.
Herbal Supplements & Aromatherapy
There’s a lot to be learned about the power of herbs and aromatherapy when it comes to aiding a healthy lifestyle. Consider taking melatonin—a naturally occurring hormone that balances sleep; magnesium—a mineral that can calm your nerves and muscles; or valerian—an herb that helps you fall asleep faster and deeper. These are completely safe and natural supplements you can take regularly to help with sleep.
Similarly, using lavender, vetiver, or sandalwood oil can calm your body and induce better sleep. Try diffusing oil into the air or put drops on your pillow. Some supplements and methods will work better for you than others and they all do different things to the body. So talk with your doctor before taking any new herbs or supplements.
Meditate & Read
How you spend the hour before bed can do a lot to help you sleep better. According to the National Sleep Foundation, watching television or looking at any screen before bed can seriously hurt your chances of a good night’s rest. Instead, try reading something in actual paper and ink. It doesn’t have to be hard literature; even a magazine or light read is better than a screen and social media. Whatever you read is bound to make for a better conversation-starter throughout the week, too.
This might be especially difficult for people who feel they have to work on their computers late into the night. If that’s you, remember that you’re only human and you’ll be more productive the next day if you get the sleep you need.
You can also try meditating, praying, or remembering things for which you’re grateful before you fall asleep. Your brain needs time to cool down and relax before totally shutting off and sleeping. This can help end the cycle of thoughts and worries that prevent many folks from finding restful sleep.
Sleep Help from the Dentist
As a professional healthcare provider, Family Dental Health wishes all of our patients the most optimal health and wellness, including quality sleep! In some cases, oral health issues such as TMJ, grinding and clenching (bruxism), or sleep apnea might be physical barriers keeping you from getting enough sleep. Your dentist can help you address and treat these issues.
If you are looking for a Portland dentist to help with these or any oral health needs, make an appointment at our office Family Dental Health today!
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.