The following content is created in consultation with Mancini's Sleepworld. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC BAY AREA's editorial staff. To learn more about Mancini's Sleepworld, visit Sleepworld.com.
We live in a sleep-deprived society. According to studies, American adults average 6.8 hours of sleep per night, which is well under the seven to nine recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.
And yet that’s somehow unsurprising. Modern life is frenetic after all, with mobile phone and tablet technology giving rise to a 24/7, internet-driven work-play culture. As a result, sleep time suffers, which can have wider ramifications during the waking hours of our day-to-day lives. From drowsiness and moodiness to weight gain and heart disease, the effects of insufficient sleep are as negative as they are broad.
Thankfully, there are a few things we can do to get our sleep back on track. By identifying the common causes keeping us awake (and breaking the underlying habits leading to those causes), we can get the sleep we need to live healthy, successful and fulfilling lives.
Too Many Beverages
Drinking — in all its forms — often leads to insufficient sleep. Having excess water at dinner or before we go to bed typically means we’ll be getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Caffeine and alcohol, on the other hand, are stimulants, meaning that afternoon latte or second glass of wine at night could lead to tossing and turning. The solution? Cut down on drinking during the week, curb the coffee consumption and stop hydrating before bedtime.
Eating late can cause indigestion, which often results in discomfort, bloating and heartburn. In other words, less than ideal seep conditions. To fix the problem, try eating a lighter dinner (avoid spicy and fatty foods) at least three hours before bedtime, then elevate your upper body with pillows to suppress stomach acid when you hit the hay.
Too Much Screen Time
Our national sleep epidemic is — in part — symptomatic of the amount of time we spend in front of screens, particularly mobile phones and tablets. The blue light emitted by these devices can actually suppress melatonin, a vital hormone that regulates our sleep cycles and helps us wind down before bed. Meaning the more time we spend flicking through Instagram and Facebook while lying in bed equals the less time we’ll spend getting a good night’s rest. To reverse that trend, put your phone away one hour before you plan to turn the lights out.
Who hasn’t suffered from a sleepless night on the eve of a big work presentation or test at school? Our minds race when we’re stressed out and it can be tough to turn off when we hit the sheets. But given today’s work culture, where many of us are expected to be remotely available during all hours, stress and its sleep-hindering side effects can become a constant rather than an outlier. Luckily, there are still ways we can destress. From deep breathing to meditation to taking a hot bath, choose a way to tune out before you go to bed. Our personal favorite? Reaching for a good old fashioned book, the kind with actual pages you have to turn.
You might have the world’s greatest spouse, but his or her sleeping habits could be seriously cramping your union. From snoring to hogging the covers to constant fidgeting, a disruptive partner can cut down on your sleep time. Thankfully, there are solutions, and they don’t even involve couple’s therapy. If he or she snores, consider getting them nasal strips to open up breathing passages, or invest in some white noise to drown out the sound. If your partner is restless, opt for a foam memory mattress — the lack of springs means you won’t bounce around even if your partner does.
We spend one third of our lives in bed, and yet many of us are spending that time atop the wrong mattress. Old or ill-fitting mattresses can cause everything from allergies to neck and back pain, all of which can keep us up night after night. Make sure to replace your mattress every eight years, and be sure to consult a professional to help you choose a mattress style that compliments your needs.
Our sleep is controlled by our circadian rhythm (essentially the sleep/wake cycle your body adheres to). But if we don’t stick to a sleep schedule — one that kicks off with a specific bedtime — our internal clock gets confused, meaning we often won’t wind down when we want to and we wake up feeling groggy. A sleep schedule will help you dial in your sleep habits. By maintaining the same bed and wake up times (even on weekends!), you’ll regulate your body’s internal clock.
Follow the tips above to break free of bad sleep habits. And for a great deal on a wide selection of mattresses, visit the experts at Mancini's Sleepworld or call them at (800) 647-5337.