About 35 percent of adults in the United States don't get the seven hours of sleep at night that they need. If you fell asleep reading that sentence, the statistic probably doesn't surprise you.
Losing sleep at night does more than just make you tired -- it can take a toll on your physical and mental health as well.
"Sleeping well at night can be an elusive goal, especially as people get older," says Dan Bushnell administrator at Gramercy Court Assisted Living. "Elderly people who do not get enough sleep can have a higher risk of falling and getting hurt, developing depression, and other complications."
Getting more sleep sounds like a great idea, but actually doing it isn't always so easy. You get caught up watching your favorite show or working through your bills, and your bedtime has passed you by before you know it.
If you find yourself getting less sleep than you'd like, give some of these ideas a try:
Skip the phone in bed
You have your smartphone in your hand all day long, checking text messages and emails, surfing the web, and maybe playing an online game or two. You might think that doing these things after you crawl into bed doesn't affect you or even helps you wind down, but you would be mistaken. If you need a reason to put your phone down when you go to bed, try this on for size: Studies have shown that light-emitting devices, like smartphones, make it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Using these devices at bedtime also makes your sleep worse and could leave you groggy in the morning.
Loud snoring doesn't just interrupt the sleep of all of your housemates -- it could also be a sign of something more serious than noise. Sleep apnea is a condition that can cause a person to stop breathing in their sleep, which can result in gasping or loud snoring. Sleep apnea can result in health problems, including poor sleep. If people complain about your snoring and you feel sleepy in the morning, it might be time to talk to your doctor.
Everyone deals with some level of stress, which is probably why a lot of people want to know how they can sleep better. High stress can make you more anxious and affect your sleep, so managing this stress could be one ticket for a better night's rest. Exercising is one way to reduce stress, so try that in the morning. Before bed -- since you should lay off the exercise at night -- try some stretches to calm yourself.
Drink less caffeine
If you love a caramel macchiato with your breakfast each morning, that probably won't get in the way of a good night's sleep. If you like to follow that up with a latte at lunch and a diet cola with dinner, you might need to rethink your caffeine intake -- or at least what time of day you have your caffeine. Caffeine can take hours to leave your system, so loading up on it throughout the day could keep you up at night. If you have trouble falling asleep, try consuming less caffeine or cut yourself off by the afternoon.
Exercising for 30 minutes a day can help you sleep better at night, and not just because you're worn out. Scientists have found that exercise can help you calm down for sleep at night. It also leads to better deep sleep. These benefits are conditional, however. Exercising right before bed could wake you up instead of helping you sleep, so do your calisthenics an hour or two before you tuck yourself in for the night.
It's time to stop saying you'd like to get more sleep and actually do something about it. Diet, exercise and turning off that pesky smartphone will make more of a difference than you may think. Put these tips into practice and start catching some more ZZZs.