A ruffled mind and a restless pillow: Ways to sleep better

Getting the proper rest needed to stay energized throughout the following day is a tricky task for many. Luckily, there are methods to combat being deprived of a full night’s sleep.

It’s six in the morning and you’re lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling of your bedroom. You hear nothing but the sound of birds chirping outside your window and the obnoxiously loud snores coming from the other room. Your brain is filled with thoughts that won’t stop racing. It’s nearly impossible to doze off when you’re tossing and turning every few minutes.

Sleep is one of the many factors that play an important role in contributing to the overall quality of someone’s life with its effects on productivity, mental health and energy levels. While some can easily get sufficient sleep, others struggle with sleep deprivation, which continues to be a problem across the United States.

According to a study conducted by Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a professor double board certified in both child neurology and sleep medicine, about 40% of Americans receive only 5-6 hours of sleep per night. Compared to the number of hours recommended for adequate sleep provided by the National Sleep Foundation each night, 7-9, it can be assumed that a large number of Americans are sleep deprived.

For students with tight schedules and heaps of schoolwork, getting enough sleep can be a struggle. A person who’s used to staying up late to finish assignments may be unsure of how to improve their sleep schedule.

Along with the additional stress and uncertainty people may feel during the pandemic, it seems to be getting harder for many to obtain a full night of sleep.

Fortunately, there are many ways to integrate into a healthier sleep schedule.

Reading a dull book or article

Looking through academic textbooks about topics you aren’t interested in can be an effective way to tire yourself out. Textbooks often delve into practical details, without trying to engage with the reader like fictional stories do. These reading materials come in handy when trying to fall asleep since the content is not surrounded around entertainment. By having a thick book around with tedious information to go through, this strategy can be easily practiced.

There are a variety of texts that can help when trying to fall asleep including philosophical books which give the reader something to ponder and sleep on or old poetry. A couple of pages into any of these are bound to make someone knock out in no time.

Make changes to your sleep environment

An ideal environment for a good night of sleep would generally be cool, quiet and dark. If the temperature of a room is too high, or if there’s light seeping into the bedroom window, it can affect the quality of one’s sleep.

Experiment with different thicknesses of pillows and make sure that sheets have been cleaned. Testing out what temperatures are most comfortable to sleep in at night also helps find the right balance for you. Sleep with a fan on, or leave the window open at night, but make sure to not leave oneself too cold or too hot.

Sleep takes up one-third of human life, so making the effort to get better sleep has more advantages than disadvantages to one’s health.

Count backwards in your head

An easy trick to fall asleep quickly without having to move around is by counting numbers backwards. Start by counting to ten holding your breath, then breathe in and breathe out. Repeat this nine more times until reaching zero, which is where the whole process will start over again from ten. Concentrate only on the sound of breathing, which will give the mind something soothing to focus on. One should keep going until it feels like they’re about to fall asleep. Each time one feels distracted, start back again at ten.

Play some white noise

If noisy neighbors are constantly disturbing one’s sleep, simply having a fan can help drown out the sound. If there isn’t a fan around, using white noise videos on Youtube of ocean waves, rain or nature noises can stimulate the brain and lower anxiety.

Have a screen free hour prior to getting into bed

Before even getting under the sheets, it’s important to stay off of the internet for at least an hour before. If it’s impossible to get offline, turn the brightness of the screen low. Continuously looking at bright screens like a smartphone or a laptop can strain the eyes. Rather than surfing the internet an hour prior to bed, try doing something less harmful to the eyes, such as meditation or a personal hobby like drawing.

Overall, getting proper sleep is a significant part of life. Without it, reaching goals, making good decisions and working more efficiently becomes harder for one to do.