8 effective ways to better your sleep

Sleep is important. It plays a vital role in maintaining our physical and mental health.

But, there may be some things we do that make falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up difficult…things which can be easily corrected if you know what to do.

Let’s explore some of the most common sleep problems as well as some simple science-based solutions for these issues, as recommended by top specialists.

1. I have trouble falling asleep

There are several factors that can influence your ability to fall asleep.

a) Your surroundings. This means that your bedroom may be too noisy, too light. Maybe there is a loud-ticking alarm clock (who’d still have those?!) or you use your phone, tablet, and laptop in bed, or you watch TV in bed. Try to get rid of all these disturbances to see if it has any effect on your sleep.


b) Your food and drink consumption habits. Sleep specialists agree that a person should refrain from drinking coffee, black tea, energy drinks, or pop; OR eating sweets, food that’s high sodium, or fatty foods at least 6 hours before going to bed.
c) You are pushing yourself to sleep a bit too hard. Tossing, turning, pushing yourself to find sleep, checking the clock…does this sound familiar? If yes, don’t keep laying in bed. Instead, read something, do some yoga, drink a chamomile tea, play some relaxing music, or meditate.

2. I have trouble staying asleep

This is a condition called ‘sleep maintenance insomnia’ and commonly occurs in periods of high stress. You can counter this by making up a relaxing pre-going-to-bed routine. This may include:

  • Taking a warm shower.
  • Keeping your bedroom lights and sounds to a minimum.
  • Exercising in the morning and afternoon.
  • Waking up every day at the same time and avoiding afternoon power-naps.

In addition, avoid using electronic gadgets in bed. Limit your alcohol intake before going to sleep as it can be a cause of sleep disturbances. And, check your thermostat and thermometer to make sure you are not too hot or too cold during sleep hours. Experts place the ideal sleep temperature within the range of 20-22°C, which is equivalent to 68-71.6°F.

3. I have trouble waking up

So, you go to bed and set up an alarm clock for when it’s time to wake up in the morning. But, you keep hitting snooze, and you feel even more tired when you do wake up. The first solution for this is to create a sleep routine for the times you go to sleep and get out of bed each day (yes, weekends too). You may not like it…but your body loves routine.

4. I snore at night

Something as simple as changing your sleeping position can help with your snoring. Get a bigger pillow to elevate your head about 4 inches. This will allow you to breathe easier and prevent your neck muscles from crimping. Also, a very effective solution is to sleep on your side and not on your back.

Remember to keep your bedroom air moist, as dry air can irritate your air passages and cause your snoring. Or, if you have a stuffy nose, clear out your nasal passages before bed to make breathing easier.

 

5. My shoulder hurts

The majority of people with shoulder pain at night can’t get a quality sleep, which has a whole other set of additional problems associated with it. So, what can you do?

TIP 1: Sleep on the other side. The first course of action to help relieve shoulder pain at night is to find a good sleeping position for you. Side sleepers with shoulder pain are recommended to avoid sleeping on the affected side. Try sleeping on the other side and hug a pillow.

TIP2: Sleep on your back. Tossing and turning can agitate your shoulder if you land on it wrong. Another recommended sleeping position is laying on your back with a small pillow underneath your head and another pillow on your chest to help put your shoulders sit in a more comfortable position throughout the night.

6. My back hurts

Pillows can help lessen back pain in almost all sleep positions. Follow these expertise simple tips on sleep positioning for more effective zzz’s and diminished back pain.

TIP 1: If you sleep on your back, your lower back can arch too much and put pressure on your spine. Luckily, there is an easy fix for this issue. Simply make sure that your knees are bent upwards slightly. You can achieve this by putting a pillow underneath your knees.

TIP 2: If you sleep on your side you need to be careful not to curl yourself up too much. Even when you are turned to the side your spine should stay in a neutral spine alignment from the neck down. Putting a pillow between your knees can help ease the pressure of your lower back.

TIP 3: If you sleep on your stomach, pillow can help manage your back pain that occurs as a result of your position. Put a small pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis. Sleeping like this will prevent the small of your back from going forward and pressuring your spinal cord.

7. My neck hurts

This is the most common problem that may result from sleeping in a bad position. In fact, there is rarely a person on Earth that has not woken up to a stiff neck at least once in their lifetime. So, how do we solve this problem?

TIP 1: If you are a back-sleeper, use a pillow that fills the space between your neck and shoulders, positioned above the shoulders. Or, put a small rolled up hand towel right under the neck for added support.

TIP 2: If you sleep on your side and get neck pain, then your pillow may be too big and holding your neck in an uncomfortable position. So, try a smaller pillow that supports your neck and allows your head to rest just right.

TIP 3: For those who like to sleep on their stomach, it is recommended that you use the thinnest pillow you can get. This position is the most uncomfortable one for the neck, so if you are recurrently experiencing neck pain, consider making an effort in changing your sleeping pose.

8. I have leg cramps

Leg cramps in the middle of the night can be a nightmare! They appear out of nowhere and feel like uncomfortable spasms in your calf, feet, or thigh area. If you’ve ever had an experience like this, you are not alone. In fact, about 80% of people have had a nighttime encounter with leg cramps. For a short-term solution, try to take Magnesium as it can relax muscles and prevent spasms. Another way to help is by massaging your legs and doing stretch exercises like yoga.

NOTE HERE: In some cases, night leg cramps can be related to nerve damage, so we suggest you see your doctor if they persist.