💤 Your Guide to Better Sleep: From Temperature to Exercise to Medication 💤

How to Get Better Sleep with Insomnia WebMD's Survey Provides Helpful Tips

Sleep tips from former insomniacs.

If you struggle with sleeplessness, you know how frustrating it can be to toss and turn all night. You’ve probably tried all sorts of tips and tricks to help you get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. From relaxation apps to weighted blankets, you’ve explored it all. But did you know that one simple fix worked best for nearly half of the participants in a recent sleep survey? That’s right, climate control!

Find the Right Temperature for Sleep 🌡️

Creating the perfect sleep environment is key to getting a good night’s rest. Imagine your bedroom as a cave – dark, quiet, and cool. Experts recommend keeping the temperature between 60-67°F (15-20°C). This range promotes deep, restful sleep and prevents you from waking up during the night. However, everyone is different, so find what temperature works best for you. Just remember, once your bedroom passes 70°F (21°C), it’s likely too hot for quality sleep.

How to sleep cooler ❄️

Alongside adjusting the thermostat, there are other things you can do to promote cooler sleep. Opt for light bedclothes and breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or bamboo. You can also try cooling pillows, mattress pads, or even mattresses designed to regulate temperature. Experimentation is the key to finding what works for you because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to sleep problems.

If you’re worried about expenses or the environmental impact of air conditioning, fear not! You can use a ceiling or table fan to help your skin feel cooler, keep curtains or blinds closed during the day to prevent heat buildup, and use bathroom and kitchen fans to eliminate heat and humidity from bathing and cooking. Sealing leaks and ensuring proper insulation in your home is also helpful in maintaining an ideal sleep environment.

In menopause, hot flashes and night sweats can wreak havoc on your sleep. If that’s the case, it’s essential to talk to your doctor. They can offer guidance and explore options to improve your sleep quality.

How to sleep warmer 🔥

On the other end of the spectrum, when temperatures drop below 60°F (15°C), they can affect your sleep as well. Cooler environments make your cardiovascular system work harder to regulate body temperature, leading to an increase in heart rate. To stay warm, try layering blankets and comforters, wearing toasty nightclothes, using a hot water bottle, electric blanket, or heating pad (consult your doctor if you’re pregnant), and wearing socks to bed.

If you and your bed partner have differing temperature preferences, communication is key. You can compromise by wearing warmer nightclothes or adding extra covers to one side of the bed. Some high-tech “smart” mattresses even self-adjust to the best temperature for each partner, though they may be a bit pricey.

Get More Exercise During the Day 🏋️‍♂️

Exercise has numerous benefits, and quality sleep is one of them! In the 3Health survey, 45% of respondents reported that increasing their daily exercise or activity level helped improve their sleep quality. While scientists don’t fully understand the connection between exercise and sleep, they believe that cardio exercise, in particular, enhances the amount of “slow wave” sleep you get. This deep, restorative stage of sleep is different from REM sleep.

Exercise also stabilizes your mood and helps you de-stress, paving the way for a more peaceful slumber. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise each day. Swimming, biking, and brisk walking are great options. Just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime, as it may keep you awake. Regular movement throughout the day is key!

Take Medication to Help You Sleep 💊

If changing your sleep environment and increasing exercise aren’t enough, there are medications and supplements that can assist with sleep. In the 3Health survey, 40% of participants reported successful results with prescription or over-the-counter sleep medication, while 38% found relief from sleep supplements like melatonin.

Sleep medications can be effective for occasional or short-term insomnia. However, they are not recommended for long-term use due to potential habit-forming properties or daytime drowsiness. Over-the-counter sleep aids may lose effectiveness over time due to tolerance, and some may lead to confusion or falls in older individuals.

Melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle, is a popular sleep supplement. While it has shown promise in treating jet lag and specific sleep disorders, more research is needed to determine its effectiveness for insomnia. Short-term use seems to be safe, but the long-term effects are still uncertain.

Other commonly used sleep supplements include valerian root, which may aid in falling asleep faster and getting better sleep, and chamomile, a traditional home remedy for relaxation (though its effectiveness for insomnia is inconclusive). Always inform your doctor before taking any supplement, as they can interact with other medications and may not be suitable during pregnancy or nursing. It’s important to note that herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so their ingredients and safety may vary.

If you experience consistent sleep issues, it’s crucial to consult a doctor rather than relying solely on sleep aids. They can help identify any underlying sleep disorders or medical causes that require proper treatment.

Sleep Hygiene Tips for Better Sleep 💤

Before trying medication or supplements, it’s important to assess your lifestyle and daily habits to ensure optimal sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene sets you up for restful sleep and is often the first step in improving your sleep quality.

Stick to a relaxing routine ✨

Creating a relaxing routine before bed is crucial for good sleep hygiene. In the 3Health survey, 40% of respondents found that reading before bedtime helped them sleep, while 31% reported better sleep when avoiding screens (phones, computers, and TVs) in the hours leading up to sleep. Experts recommend limiting screen time for a full 2 hours before bed to promote better sleep.

Consistency is also vital. Humans thrive on regular schedules, which helps regulate our internal body clocks and improve sleep quality. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This consistency helps establish a healthy sleep routine.

Another crucial factor is ensuring that your daily schedule allows for the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep. People who spent 7 or more hours in bed per night in the 3Health survey were more likely to report better sleep quality. Adjusting your bedtime, sleep schedule, or daytime napping habits may significantly impact your overall sleep quality.

Get a new sleep position 🛌

Sometimes, a simple change in sleep position can lead to better sleep. According to the survey, changing the angle of the bed, using a different number of pillows, or adjusting sleep positions helped 38% of respondents. Experts generally recommend side or back sleeping with a supportive pillow. However, it’s beneficial to change positions during the night to alleviate pressure points.

Watch what you drink 🚱

Fluid intake can significantly impact your sleep quality. Getting up to pee was the primary sleep disruptor for survey participants, with 33% reporting it as a problem. To combat this, try limiting fluid intake in the two hours before you go to bed.

Caffeinated beverages are well-known sleep disruptors. Not only do they keep you awake, but they also increase urination frequency due to their diuretic effects. Decreasing caffeine intake at least four hours before bedtime helped 37% of respondents in the survey. Keep in mind that individual sensitivity to caffeine varies.

Alcohol is another drink notorious for interfering with sleep. While it may help you fall asleep initially, it disrupts the sleep cycle, leading to restless nights. It also increases the need to urinate. Limiting alcohol consumption at least four hours before bed improved sleep for 30% of respondents.

What else can help? ✅

Survey respondents mentioned several other tactics that helped improve sleep, including sleeping alone or in a separate room, using white noise or soothing sounds, losing weight, adjusting medication or supplements (used for conditions other than sleep), using a weighted blanket, reducing nicotine use, wearing earplugs or an eye mask, using “snore strips” or nasal dilators, wearing a mouthguard to reduce snoring or teeth grinding, or using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea. These techniques may work for some individuals, but they aren’t comprehensive solutions for all sleep problems.

However, it’s important to realize that these tips and tricks might not address the underlying cause of your sleep issues. If you continually experience poor sleep, it’s essential to seek professional help and identify any potential medical causes or sleep disorders that require treatment.

📚 SOURCES:

  1. Cleveland Clinic – What’s the Best Temperature for Sleep?
  2. Cleveland Clinic – How Exercise Affects Your Sleep
  3. Cleveland Clinic – Back, Side or Stomach: Which Sleep Position Is Best for You?
  4. Cleveland Clinic – Is it Healthy to Drink Water Before Bed?. Read my What to Know About Caffeine and Sleep
  5. National Institutes of Health – Sleep Problems and Menopause: What Can I Do?
  6. CDC – Tips for Better Sleep
  7. Johns Hopkins Medicine – Exercising for Better Sleep
  8. Johns Hopkins Medicine – Melatonin for Sleep: Does It Work?
  9. Johns Hopkins Medicine – Losing Weight, Especially in the Belly, Improves Sleep Quality, According to a Johns Hopkins Study
  10. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health – Melatonin: What You Need to Know
  11. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health – Chamomile
  12. Mayo Clinic – Valerian: A safe and effective herbal sleep aid?
  13. St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton – Caffeine
  14. Piedmont Hospital – How Does Alcohol Effect Your Sleep?
  15. Handbook of Clinical Neurology – Alcohol and the Sleeping Brain
  16. Sleep – Bed Sharing Versus Sleeping Alone Associated with Sleep Health and Mental Health
  17. UpToDate – The effects of medications on sleep quality and sleep architecture
  18. Mayo Clinic – Snoring, Bruxism (teeth grinding), Sleep apnea

Remember, when it comes to sleep, it’s important to explore various strategies and seek professional guidance when needed. Everyone is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. So, experiment, be patient, and prioritize your sleep for a healthier and happier life! 😴

📢 Calling all sleep-deprived friends! Did you find these tips helpful? Share your sleep struggles and success stories in the comments below. Let’s help each other find the secrets to a restful night’s sleep! 🌙✨