How to Sleep Better without Prescription Medication
by Gabriel Patel
Chronic sleep deprivation is one of the most common health problems in the US. Failing to get at least seven hours of sleep can have a variety of long-term effects on your mind and body, contributing to problems like weight gain, mood disorders, and a weakened immune system.
Unfortunately, getting enough sleep isn’t always as simple as going to bed early. Sleep doesn’t come easy for many of us. While insomnia may prompt you to try sleeping pills, over-the-counter and prescription medication isn’t the best way to overcome sleep issues. Here are some tips to help you sleep better naturally!
The Problem with Sleeping Pills
Consumer Reports explains that the benefits of sleeping pills might not outweigh the risks. Medication does nothing to treat the underlying cause behind insomnia. In fact, it can make the problem worse! Sleeping pills have only a mild impact on sleep duration, but they can cause side effects like lingering drowsiness and the risk of becoming dependent.
If you’re struggling with sleeplessness, try a few natural sleep aids before turning to prescription meds. Your solution may be as straightforward as seeking treatment for a mental health problem. For example, if you struggle with anxiety, counseling can offer relief from sleep issues and other common anxiety symptoms.
The behaviors and environmental factors that promote sleep — known as sleep hygiene — are also important. Let’s dive into some sleep hygiene habits that can improve your sleep.
A Relaxing Bedroom Environment
Your bedroom environment can make or break your sleep. Research shows that people sleep best when the bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool (about 65 degrees Fahrenheit). Soft and breathable bedding can also make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
While it’s important to avoid screens before bedtime, some technology can actually improve your sleep. For example, running a white noise machine can block outside sounds from disrupting your slumber. Listening to soothing music or ambient sounds can serve a similar purpose, while also alleviating anxiety and promoting relaxation. Consider investing in a Bluetooth speaker for your bedroom so you can stream calming music while you fall asleep.
Research shows that regular exercise can have a significant impact on sleep quality. Engaging in physical activity can help you fall asleep more quickly and enjoy better sleep quality, so you can wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated instead of groggy and sluggish. The best part? You’ll see results right away! Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise can create a noticeable difference in sleep quality that very night, so pick an exercise you enjoy and get started today.
Natural Light Exposure
The amount of time you spend outside can also affect your quality of sleep. Exposure to bright, natural light during the day — and especially first thing in the morning — will help your internal sleep cycle sync with the rising and setting of the sun. According to Verywell Health, properly-timed light exposure can help you adjust your sleep cycle earlier or later to better align with your daily schedule. Spend at least 30 minutes outside in the sunlight after waking up.
A Fixed Sleep Schedule
Sticking to a regular sleep schedule is another great habit to adopt in the name of high-quality sleep. When you fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day, your body gets in the habit of producing hormones that make you feel sleepy and tired at the right times. An inconsistent schedule means that you’re fighting against your body’s natural rhythm. This can make you feel tired during the day and too stimulated to fall asleep at night, only worsening any sleep issues you’re already facing.
Dealing with sleep problems can be tough. While sleeping pills might work as a quick fix, the side effects of long-term use aren’t worth it. Take a few steps to improve your sleep hygiene and see how it helps. You might be surprised! Even something as simple as going for a morning walk could offer the relief you’ve been looking for.