According to statistics reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30 percent to 40 percent of men and women get less than seven hours of sleep per night. About one-third of adults unintentionally fell asleep during the day over the past 30 days, and more than 41,000 people are killed or injured due to nodding off or falling asleep behind the wheel each year.
Those are pretty scary statistics, but definitely not surprising. Getting a solid seven hours isn’t easy — especially with work and life stress carrying into the night. And don’t forget the ever-present computers and other devices that project light into our optical systems, continually messing with our circadian rhythms.
Exercise early in the day.
Experts don’t agree on how much time to keep between your workouts and bedtime, but at least three hours is the minimum. For the best shut-eye, exercise first thing in the morning. No matter your age, it’s important to make exercise a priority, as it provides a number of different benefits – including improving your quality of sleep.
Skip the alcohol.
Sure, a drink or two before bedtime may help you fall asleep, but it also will have you up and restless in a few hours and/or you will be awake before your normal starting time. The net result is less and restless sleep, not more.
That means you should keep the TV and computer off and your cell phone out of sight (if you need to have your phone in the room, keep it where you can’t see it). Once again, the light from these objects can reduce melatonin levels. If you fall asleep better with a little noise in the background, choose some soothing music or white sound.
A brief (10-20 minute) nap during the middle of the day can be helpful if you are really tired and feel like you will fall asleep at your desk or behind the wheel. However, a before-dinner nap can screw up your ability to fall asleep at your optimal time.
Meditate before bedtime.
Meditation is a powerful tool to help relax your mind and clear away all thoughts and distractions. I use the Headspace app.
It’s no secret that having sex can make you tired and also relieve stress. These are two essential ingredients for healthful sleep. For men, sex also releases a cocktail of hormones after an orgasm that promote sleep, relaxation and reduction of anxiety levels.