Help improve your family's physical and mental well-being
Published February 2021
Getting a good night’s sleep may be as important as eating well and exercising. But these days, with so much going on and so many people working from home, that’s sometimes easier said than done. Not getting enough sleep can have a number of detrimental effects, such as:
- Poor sleep has been linked to obesity1
- Getting less than 7-8 hours of sleep a night can increase your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes2
- It can affect your mental alertness and concentration2
- It can affect your physical strength and performance2
- It can increase your sensitivity to pain and mood3
- It can increase your risk of accidents2
Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can improve and enhance your quality of sleep. Here are 10 tips to try.
1. Get as much sunlight and bright light during the day as you can.
This can help your body’s natural clock, known as your circadian rhythm, know when it’s time to wake and sleep. Regular daily sunlight or even artificial light can help to improve the duration and quality of your sleep.2
2. Reduce blue light in your bedroom.
The type of light that is emitted by electronic devices such as your phone, computer and TV can trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime. So, you may think you’re helping yourself fall asleep by watching late night TV or surfing the net, but you’re actually doing the opposite. Turn those devices off at night and keep your bedroom dark.2
3. Don't drink caffeine late in the day.
Try not to drink tea, coffee or caffeinated beverages for at least 6 hours before you plan on going to bed. They can keep you awake or decrease your quality of sleep. If you really enjoy coffee or tea before bed, make it a decaf or herbal.
4. Avoid medications that interfere with sleep.
Some over the counter drugs such as decongestants and pain relief medications contain caffeine and other stimulants that can interfere with sleep. If you need to take them, take them well in advance of bedtime to avoid sleeplessness.4
5. Stick to a regular sleep and wake time.
Your body’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock, works on patterns or loops that it recognizes. Try to stick to a regular sleep routine if you can. A hot bath or shower just before you turn in for the night can also help.
6. Try a melatonin supplement.
Melatonin has long been associated with improved sleep, and it’s readily available at pharmacies without a prescription. Try 1 to 5 mg half an hour to an hour before bed.2
7. Avoid alcohol.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you may think that a glass of wine before bed could help you relax. But relax and sleep are two different things. That glass of wine could reduce your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin and interfere with your sleep.2
8. Sleep-ify your bedroom environment!
Your bedroom environment plays a huge role in your sleep. Try to minimize noise and light. Make sure the temperature is not too hot, not too cold. Make sure your mattress is comfortable, and consider a new one every 5 to 8 years. A good pillow can also help. Even fresh, new bedding can help make you feel comfortable and relaxed.
9. Don't eat too close to bedtime.
It just stands to reason, if your body is busy digesting, it won’t be ready to shut down when you are. This is particularly true after heavy or large meals.
10. As a last resort, rule out a sleep disorder.
There are many known sleep disorders. Some are experienced by those with a vision impairment, others by shift workers. There is also sleep apnea, a common condition which stops a person’s breathing for seconds at a time during sleep, and restless leg syndrome which makes sleep very difficult. If you don’t experience restful sleep, talk to your doctor to rule out a physical cause which may have a medical solution.2
Health & Dental Insurance plans from CAA can help cover the cost of expenses not covered by your government health plan, such as prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, registered therapists and more, and could help you save hundreds of dollars a year.