(CNN) – The days are longer, full of sunshine, and sparkling with the promise of a more relaxed few months with your loved ones. But if you want to enjoy the day, it’s time to increase your sleep at night.We need it. More than a third of American adults do not get enough sleep on a regular basis, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC), who call lack of sleep a “public health epidemic.”
It is also a global problem, according to the World Sleep Society, a non-profit organization of sleep professionals dedicated to promoting “sleep health around the world.”
“Sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatens the health and quality of life of up to 45% of the world’s population,” says the society.
You don’t have to go through life without sleep. Just as you learned to wash your hands frequently and use a mask as part of your personal hygiene for the pandemic, you can learn to sleep better each night with what experts call “sleep hygiene.”
This is the terminology of sleep specialists for the ways you can train your brain to recognize that it is time to fall asleep … and stay asleep.
The sleep is one of the three key ingredients for a healthier and longer life (the others are diet and exercise). Many of the ways to increase the quality of your sleep are straightforward.
Here are the top eight ways to improve sleep hygiene and get a good night’s sleep:
1. Create your dream nest
One of the first tasks is to prepare your sleeping environment. The REM or sleep phase is a lighter level of rest that can be interrupted more easily, so try to have a comfortable mattress and bedding that is not too hot.
The science tells us that we sleep better in cooler temperatures, around 15-20 degrees.
2. Establish a routine
Create a bedtime ritual by taking a hot bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music. You can also try deep breathing, yoga, meditation, or light stretching.
This will teach your brain to relax.
And fulfill it. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or days off, advises the CDC. The body likes routine.
3. Turn off the lights
Secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin begins in the evening. Research has found that the body reduces or stops the production of melatonin if exposed to light, so get rid of any light, even the blue light from your charging smartphone or laptop. If your room isn’t dark enough, consider using light-blocking blinds or an eye mask.
What if you like to read to sleep? Experts say nothing is wrong, but a real book should be read in dim light, not a tablet or an e-reader.
This is because “any light source in the LED spectrum can further suppress melatonin levels,” said Dr. Vsevolod Polotsky, who directs basic sleep research in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in an earlier CNN interview.
“Digital light will suppress the circadian drive,” said Polotsky, while a “dim reading light will not.”
4. Dampens noise
At the same time that you take care of the blue light on your smartphone, turn off your work alerts (no Slack or email pings at 2 in the morning).
Better yet, charge it outside of your room.
If you live in a noisy urban environment, putting white noise or turning on a fan in the bedroom could help drown out any sudden noise that might wake you from your sleep.
5. Refrain from drinking caffeine late in the day
Stop drinking caffeinated fluids at least six hours before your usual bedtime (some experts say nothing after 3pm). And caffeine isn’t just in coffee, so this applies to some teas and sodas, as well as chocolate.
Yes, the chocolate. That cup of hot chocolate that you think can help you sleep may contain 25 milligrams of caffeine, while a cup of green or black tea will provide you with 50 milligrams of caffeine.
6. Avoid alcohol
Don’t use alcohol to calm your nerves or help you sleep. Alcohol can help you fall asleep, but it traps you in the lighter stages of it.
Your body needs to experience all three stages of sleep – light sleep, REM or sleep state, and deep sleep – to fully repair and restore itself.
7. Avoid heavy or spicy foods
Heavy and spicy foods can cause heartburn or other digestive problems, thus affecting your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. As for sugar, studies show that it is related to restless and restless sleep and possibly affecting the hormones that control cravings.
According to National Sleep Foundation, a light snack before bedtime is acceptable. Recommend eating a handful of nuts; some cherries (which are high in melatonin); a banana (which contains muscle relaxants like potassium and magnesium) and decaffeinated teas like chamomile, ginger, and peppermint.
8. Make your room sacred
And last but not least, reserve your bed for sleep and sex.
As normal as it may seem to work from home or play with children in bed, it doesn’t teach your brain to see the bedroom as a place to sleep.
The need to sleep
Why worry so much? Because lack of sleep is dangerous for health.
Not getting enough sleep has been linked to lack of libido, weight gain, hypertension, weakened immune system, paranoia, mood swings, depression, and an increased risk of some types of cancer, dementia, diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
But wait, there’s more: getting less sleep than you need on a regular basis can double your risk of dying. In a longitudinal study of 10,308 British civil servantsResearchers found that people who reduced their sleep to seven to five hours or less a night were almost twice as likely to die from all causes, but especially from cardiovascular disease.
Remember that the amount of sleep you need each night depends on your age.
Babies need 12-16 hours, toddlers 11-14 hours, and preschoolers 10-13 hours of sleep a day, including naps, according to the CDC. School-age children need 9-12 hours of sleep each night, and teens still need 8-10 hours, which few get due to social media.
Adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night, another goal that many miss. But with these sleep hygiene tips, you can teach your brain a few new tricks to get the quality sleep you want.
Whatever you do, don’t miss out on sleep. If you try these tips and can’t relax, or your sleep keeps getting worse, be sure to see your doctor or a mental health professional.