How to Sleep Better without Medication
Nearly 35% of Americans are in some state of sleep deprivation. Less than seven hours of sleep per night is considered “short sleeping” by the CDC. Although some people need less sleep than others, sleep deprivation has adverse effects on the body.
How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Body
Most people are aware of the common signs of being sleep deprived: feeling irritable and having slower reactions. Also, you may be more prone to get sick. Participants in a study who slept less than seven hours were nearly three times as likely to catch a cold as those who slept eight hours or more. Short sleepers are more likely to have a variety of health problems. Chronic conditions like asthma and depression are less common in those who get sufficient sleep than those who sleep less than seven hours.
Short sleeping may seem like an innocuous by-product of modern life, but it has larger health effects than many people realize. Therefore, you should consider taking steps to improve your sleep health if you don’t get enough sleep every night.
Common Causes of Insomnia
Even people who intend to improve their sleep health may have issues getting the sleep that they need. Some factors that can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep are:
- Traveling across time zones
- Poor sleep habits
- Eating before bed
One way to get better sleep is to address these causes of poor sleep.
Alternative Treatments to Improve Sleep
Addressing stress may make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Yoga has been shown to reduce work stress and improve sleep when practiced twice weekly by nurses. Acupuncture also may reduce your stress. A rat study showed that acupuncture reduced anxiety to levels similar to that of the control group. In short, acupuncture made the rats feel as though they were not stressed in the first place.
One of the other ways to improve your sleep is to optimize your bedroom for sleep. The mattress should support your weight and proper spinal alignment. Taller and heavier people should consider a firmer mattress so that they don’t sink too deeply. In addition to having the right bed and pillow, the room can be lighted for better sleep. Blackout curtains can block out light pollution and noises that may awaken sleepers at night. A white noise machine can also drown out disruptive sounds. Using lavender scents in your room may be calming too. Think of what bothers you when you sleep and try to address it.
Making small lifestyle changes can improve your sleep and health dramatically. If sleeping well is a problem for you, you may want to consider these tips before asking for prescription medications, which have some side effects and may be habit-forming. A short acupuncture treatment or yoga session may be enough to help you sleep better.