Sleeping does not come easy to many people. In fact, insomnia is one of the most common reasons patients come to my clinic. As a sleep medicine physician, I constantly get asked whether I live by the same recommendations I give my patients. It’s one thing to know the science and medicine behind sleep — it’s another to put it into practice. Consequently, as a sleep expert I live by what I teach my patients about how to sleep better.
Do you want to become an expert sleeper? First, make sure you’ve mastered the basics of sleep hygiene. You’ve likely heard about the main strategies to good sleep hygiene. Once you’ve put into practice basic sleep hygiene, you can now learn how to become an expert sleeper.
And don’t we all want to snooze through the night until your calming alarm tells you it’s time to wake up? Let’s discuss some of these practical tips.
Toss Out Your Lengthy Bedtime To-Do List
Remember that time management is just as important in the evening as it is during the day. Instead of trying to accomplish everything on your to-do list at night while sacrificing sleep; reverse your approach.
Set aside the amount of time you need for a full night’s sleep. For example, you feel your best when you get eight hours of sleep. Then, commit to stopping your activities in advance of bedtime to ensure to get the proper amount of sleep throughout the night. This can lead to more productive days, thereby allowing you to complete those tasks anyway. Remember that the average adult needs eight to nine hours of sleep each night.
Make a Sleep Sanctuary
Using your bed and your entire bedroom primarily for sleep is important. If you do work or watch television while lounging in your bed, your brain may not be ready to shut off when it’s bedtime. By making your room a haven for sleep, your brain subconsciously starts getting ready to catch some shut eye the minute you walk in the door.
Soundproof Your Sleep
Nothing is more frustrating than repetitive noisy interruptions to your slumber. For those that live near busy streets or share a home with rambunctious roommates, protect your ears and delicate hours of rest with these interventions.
First, consider using a white noise machine to help dull out distracting noises. Avoid music since the up and down fluctuation of the rhythm can disrupt sleep. Second, plug in good old-fashioned ear plugs. You can find them at nearly every local pharmacy for less than five dollars.
Drop the Night Cap
While a glass of wine may help you fall asleep, your body will break down alcohol while you snooze and leave your brain feeling a sense of “withdrawal” as the morning hits. This causes disrupted sleep and waking up before your alarm goes off. Try to go to bed with a blood alcohol content of zero.
Let the Sunlight Guide Your Day
Early morning sunlight can actually make it easier to fall asleep at the desired time each night. Take a minute to open up the shades and get some UV rays in the morning. Do you wake up too early to see the sun? Turning on bright lights in the home can do the job as well.
Keep these tips in mind on your journey to the perfect night of sleep helping you function at your optimum energy level each and every day.
About The Author
Dr. Sujay Kansagra Sujay Kansagra, MD is an associate professor at Duke University Medical Center and is Mattress Firm's Sleep Health Expert. He is also the Program Director of the Pediatric Neurology Residency Program and Director of the Duke Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program. Dr. Kansagra is double board certified in both Child Neurology and Sleep Medicine. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and is the author of numerous book chapters and books on the topic of sleep, including My Child Won’t Sleep. He’s been featured on Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Bustle, SheKnows, Thrillist, CNN, and Reader’s Digest, among others and can be found regularly discussing sleep, medicine and education with his 129K+ Twitter followers via his accounts, @medschooladvice and @PedsSleepDoc. Best Night’s Sleep: Not just a sleep expert, but also an expert sleeper, Dr. Kansagra can sleep almost anywhere, thanks to years of sleep deprivation during medical school and residency call nights. But his best sleep is at home with his family, on a mattress he purchased at Mattress Firm long before he joined our team. He recently upgraded it with an adjustable base.