The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. But in a 2013 U.S. Gallup Poll, 40 percent of adults reported getting fewer than seven hours a night.
So how can you get some rest? Your fellow Blue Cross and Blue Shield members offer these tips.
Please note that the following tips from members do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Blue Cross and Blue Shield. These tips are intended as general information only. Please consult your physician for specific advice.
Honestly — the best thing my wife and I have done is to buy an air-supported bed that allows us to adjust the firmness of the mattress.
— Robert G.
I have several sleep tips:
- Make sure you block/schedule out eight hours. I know when lights out needs to happen and when I need to jump out of bed. We are tempted to keep getting things done or keep relaxing and watching TV, but lack of sleep only serves to be counter-productive. I tried unsuccessfully to train my body to operate on seven hours only. Be aware of your needs; experiment until you find your ideal operating points.
- For those who are prone to ruminating: When it is lights out, don’t think about your day. Don’t think about anything that may be bothering you. Say your affirmations and then also affirm that you are about to get some amazing sleep.
- Make sure it is pitch black. Any light coming in at all may affect your quality of sleep, so I wear a black eye mask.
- Make sure your phone (if you use it as an alarm) is on airplane mode so you don’t get woken up by texts or calls.
- Fluff your pillow before sleeping.
- If you awaken in the middle of the night and can’t immediately fall back to sleep, try changing positions. My last ditch effort is to sleep with no pillow and on my stomach. It seems to signal to my body that there is only one thing of importance right now: sleep! (It is also hard to think of anything at all in this strange position.)
- If you awaken with racing thoughts, repeat your affirmations. If anything is bothering you, realize it is not important (sleep is!).
- Rinse a washcloth under warm or cold water and sleep with it on your face. It signals to your body to soothe itself, calm down and relax into sleep.
— Stacy M.
When I was younger, I could go to work after only a few hours of sleep and do it again the next day — week after week. Suddenly, when I turned 38, I was diagnosed with migraines. My trigger was sleep deprivation.
Some of my tips may be new to you, so talk with your health care provider before implementing any new exercise regimen, changing your diet, or taking/changing medications or supplements.
- First, I had blood work done, and later I performed a sleep study. The tests revealed that my hormones were changing, and after I addressed that, I saw some improvement.
- Next, I evaluated all my supplements to determine their impact — and made some changes. I don’t take medications. If you do, discuss your supplements and medicines with your health care provider if you think they may be impacting your sleep.
- My PCP also recommended a more substantial workout in my regular schedule. I walk at least 30 minutes every day now, and I can feel the difference when I don’t exercise.
- I began to see more small improvements, but additional research led me to analyze my diet. I cut back on refined sugar and simple carbohydrates. Diet change made a substantial improvement in my sleep.
- Common sense necessitated that I avoid all caffeine after 2 p.m., and this is tough when that 2 p.m. cola or coffee is a habit.
- Probably the most challenging habit I addressed was turning off screens at least two hours before bed. I’ve begun reading again, but I’ve also discovered that my reading material must be rather boring, non-action-packed.
- Finally, I made some sleep hygiene modifications. I adjusted the heat or air (I like it cool), removed all sources of light from the room, added a 2-inch mattress topper, and used a sound machine.
Yes, it’s a lot, but it’s also working. The key for me was to get a medical assessment. If you regularly suffer from sleep deprivation, there could be an underlying issue that you can remedy. Check with your doctor. You may once again find that elusive full night’s sleep — and resolve other issues related to your health.
— Kimberly M.
Sources: National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations, Sleep Health, March 2015; In U.S., 40% Get Less than Recommended Amount of Sleep, Gallup Lifestyle Poll, 2013