If you suffer from even the occasional bout of insomnia, you’d probably try almost anything just to get that precious good night’s sleep. And chances are, you’ve figured out a few approaches that don’t work. “Some things that can hurt your chances of getting a good night’s sleep include lying in your bed while doing work or watching television, napping or drinking caffeine after 2 p.m., and using your phone or other electronics before bed without any blue light protection,” warns Vanessa Osorio, Certified Sleep Science Coach and sleep expert at Sleepopolis. Trying to settle down with warm mug of herbal tea before bed may not be advisable, either.
WebMD cautions insomniacs on a few other bedtime no-nos: “Do not balance the checkbook, study, or make phone calls… while in bed or even in the bedroom,” are some of the site’s suggestions. “All these activities can increase alertness and make it difficult to fall asleep.”
Now that you know about certain activities that won’t help you sleep, read on to find out about one that might just improve your chances of getting some quality shut-eye tonight.
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Many Americans can empathize with that desperate need for sleep—up to 70 million per year, according to the Cleveland Clinic. “Insomnia symptoms occur in approximately 33 percent to 50 percent of the adult population, while Chronic Insomnia Disorder that is associated with distress or impairment is estimated at 10 percent to 15 percent,” says the site.
So what causes sleep problems? “Common causes of insomnia include stress, an irregular sleep schedule, poor sleeping habits, mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, physical illnesses and pain, medications, neurological problems, and specific sleep disorders,” explains the Sleep Foundation. “For many people, a combination of these factors can initiate and exacerbate insomnia.” Research is also finding that insomnia can be a symptom of long COVID.
Sleep disorders may manifest in different ways, including difficulty falling asleep, as well as waking up too early or not feeling rested even after sleeping, according to the Mayo Clinic.
And the negative effects of lost sleep can be felt both mentally and physically. The Mayo Clinic lists numerous potential repercussions for those suffering from a sleep disorder. These include “Lower performance on the job or at school; slowed reaction time while driving and a higher risk of accidents; mental health disorders, such as depression, an anxiety disorder or substance abuse; [and] increased risk and severity of long-term diseases or conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.”
“Sleep is as important to your health as a healthy diet and regular physical activity,” advises the Mayo Clinic. “People with insomnia report a lower quality of life compared with people who are sleeping well.”
Celebrities such as Taye Diggs and Jennifer Aniston have spoken out about their struggles with insomnia. Diggs told Best Life that after trying meditation, hypnosis videos, exercise, and over-the-counter sleep aids, he felt like he’d exhausted his options. “You come to a point when you’re trying everything and none of it works. That’s when it’s a little scary,” Diggs revealed. The actor finally found relief via the sleep aid QUVIVIQ.
For Aniston, it was a bedtime routine that helped her after years of battling insomnia; she told People that her nighttime ritual consists of putting away her screens and doing yoga or stretches, and going to bed the same time each night.
Another tip? Making bedtime the same time each night, “which is challenging for us actors, because if we’re on a movie, the schedule is all over the place,” said Aniston.
One simple trick that can help you get a better night of sleep actually starts in the morning. A study by OnePoll for Serta Simmons Bedding showed that 74 percent of respondents said they sleep better when they get into a neatly made bed at night. “Although it may seem like a small task to start, making your bed in the morning can encourage a sense of pride, create a calm environment, improve your mood, encourage you to take on other tasks throughout your day, and help you sleep better at night,” advises Osorio.
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Insomnia can feel like an insurmountable battle, so it might be surprising that something as simple as making your bed in the morning can make such a difference—but it’s true.
“People might sleep better after making their bed in the morning because this promotes good sleep hygiene, and coming home to a freshly made bed helps boost your mood, lower stress levels, and promote a calm and relaxing environment in the bedroom,” explains Osorio. “Additionally, making your bed in the morning discourages you from messing it up or getting back in bed throughout the day and helps create a strong association between your bed and peaceful sleep.”
Making your bed has other benefits, too. Architectural Digest reports that in addition to helping people sleep better, “Making your bed each morning could make you more productive.” Another added perk? A neater-looking bedroom.