4 ways to improve sleep in the face of daily stresses and work-life demands
Do you get enough sleep each night? Do your loved ones? Or are you a "short sleeper," someone who routinely sleeps less than seven hours per 24-hour period - something known as short sleep duration.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society both recommend that adults aged 18 to 60 sleep at least seven hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being. Increasingly, researchers are finding that poor sleep quality and duration is associated with a slew of negative health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, stroke and Alzheimer's.
Most U.S. adults (88%) understand quality sleep is critically important to overall health, but a third of Americans (33%) regularly sleep less than the recommended minimum seven hours per night, and 44% do not have a serious sleep routine, according to a consumer survey by Tranquility weighted blanket brand. In the same survey, general stress and anxiety was the top barrier to getting good sleep.
So, how can you improve sleep in the face of daily stresses and work-life demands?
1) Establish a sleep routine including wind-down rituals and a consistent bedtime, even on weekends. Wind-down rituals could include bathing at night, turning down lights, setting your devices to nighttime mode or Do Not Disturb, relaxing with a weighted blanket, and cutting off eating and drinking several hours before your established bedtime.
2) Incorporate small, realistic changes, like adjusting your immediate environment with cooler nighttime temperatures, new bedding or limiting evening screen time, versus more drastic changes that may be hard to maintain, like making a career change or cutting out coffee cold turkey. Giving up caffeine drinks can improve sleep, but less than two in 10 (19%) adults said they would be willing to try this tactic, whereas about a third would be willing to change bedding or adjust screen time habits.
3) Tie your new routine to existing habits. Behavioral scientists say we are more successful adopting new healthy habits when they are tethered to existing ones. If you watch TV or read to unwind before bed, adding a weighted blanket that elicits a calming sensation through the application of deep touch pressure can compound the relaxing effect. If you work out in the evenings, adding a few minutes of gentle yoga, breathwork or meditation to the end of your session can help prep your mind and body for sleep.
4) Give yourself time to settle into your new routine. There will be days where family, social or work obligations disrupt your new pattern, and cutting off screen time or eating and drinking well in advance of bedtime is an impossibility. This is where a meditation routine or weighted blanket can come in handy, helping to quickly quiet a busy mind or body close to bedtime. Eventually, you'll be reaping the health benefits of consistent, quality sleep.