3 ways to get a better night’s sleep

We don’t have to tell you that most Americans aren’t sleeping well. A good night’s rest is a must-have for the physical as well as the mental health of your body, and yet, many people toss and turn in bed.

More than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to studies.

Experts say that most healthy adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best.

If counting sheep is not your thing, there are other ways of getting a better night’s sleep. Here are three solutions:

1. Balance Your Exposure To Light

Your body produces a naturally occurring hormone called melatonin, and it works with your body’s internal clock.

Your brain secretes less melatonin when it’s light to keep you alert and more melatonin when it’s dark to make you sleepy.

During the day, you should allow as much natural light into your home or surroundings, and spend time outdoors in sunlight to balance your body’s internal clock.

When you’re ready to retire at night, put away your computer, smartphone, TV and other technological devices because these can suppress melatonin production.

Blue light from your laptop, for example, is not only disruptive but stimulating to the brain. These devices keep you active and alert during times when you should be winding down for bed.

Close bedroom curtains at night for a dark room, and try a sleep mask for total darkness.

2. What You Eat And Drink Matters

If you must have your caffeine, try and enjoy it early enough in the day to avoid a sleepless night. The effects of caffeine can linger in the body for 10 to 12 hours after drinking it and disrupt your normal sleep pattern.

The same goes for smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant like caffeine and can keep you tossing and turning rather than catching those all-important zzzs.

Some folks eat dinner later in the evening, but even that routine can mess up a good night’s rest. Avoid rich, heavy foods for at least a couple of hours before your head hits the pillow, and just say no to spicy foods before bedtime that can cause heartburn or stomach discomfort.

We’ve all been schooled in drinking lots of water and other beverages often to stay hydrated, but too many liquids mean a lot of trips to the bathroom.

This may sound hard to believe, but sugary foods and those containing refined carbs like pasta, pastry, sodas and snacks can actually can pull you out of deep sleep. So indulge in those during the lighter hours.

3. Adjust To Your Circadian Rhythm

Our bodies all have a natural sleep-wake cycle called the circadian rhythm. Think of it as our master clock because it helps determine our sleep patterns and works with our melatonin production.

To keep things running smoothly, you should maintain a regular schedule. For example, try and go to sleep at the same time every night, and awaken at the same hour each morning. Your body will be able to arise without an alarm clock if you’re getting a decent night’s rest.

Trying to make up for lost sleep over the weekend will not give you the sleep balance you’re looking for. Sleep experts say that sleeping in late on weekends only disturbs your natural sleep-wake rhythm.

You’re better off trying to catch some zzzs with a daytime nap.

Try these three tips for better sleeping tonight, and we hope you arise in the morning with a spring in your step.