It’s world sleep day. Here’s how to get better rest

Health & Fitness

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The events of the past year have made it hard for many of us to get a full eight hours of sleep every night. In a recent survey, we conducted about what keeps Americans awake at night, 41% of participants said anxiety about the future prevents them from catching adequate Z’s.

With World Sleep Day approaching on March 19, there’s never been a better time to make sleep a priority and take steps to ensure you get the shuteye you need to feel your best.

Hosted by the World Sleep Society, this annual event is “intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, social aspects, and driving.”

The group hopes that through better prevention and management of sleep disorders, sleep problems will no longer be such a huge issue in our society. Poor sleep is estimated to cost $400 billion per year in productivity loss, to say nothing of its contribution to more serious health problems.

The theme for this year’s World Sleep Day is “Regular Sleep, Healthy Future.” To mark the occasion, we’re sharing 10 tried-and-true tips to help you improve your snooze now so you can reap the health benefits for years to come.

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1. Take a nap

Capitalize on the afternoon lull with a little siesta. Research finds you only need about 20 minutes to reap the benefits of napping, which include a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, healthier blood pressure, and a brain health boost. Find it difficult to rest your eyes in the middle of the day? Here’s how to work naps into your schedule.

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2. Sniff lavender

Before hitting the sack, take a whiff of lavender. This purple plant has some serious sleep-promoting properties. In fact, one study reports that inhaling lavender before bed increases the amount of deep sleep you can experience. If you want to venture outside of lavender, try one of these other effective essential oils for sleep.

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3. Drink a glass of tart cherry juice

Downing a glass of merlot before bed? Not such a hot idea, as alcohol can wreck your sleep. A glass of tart cherry juice on the other hand? That’s a much better choice. Studies show tart cherries are an excellent natural sleep aid.

Here’s exactly how much tart cherry juice you need for better sleep. Cheers!

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4. Enjoy a nighttime bath

One of the best pre-bedtime activities you can do is take a warm bath. Here’s why: Your body temperature naturally dips at night, helping you fall asleep. A warm bath raises your temperature, but the cooldown you experience once you’re out of the tub primes you for sleep. 

Here’s how to enhance your bath for maximum sleepiness.

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5. Try a 5-minute meditation

Meditation relieves anxiety stress, fatigue, and pain. Research finds it can even help you catch Z’s and curb insomnia. You don’t need to dedicate a ton of time to meditating to see the results—as little as five minutes of mindfulness will do the trick. Here’s how to make meditation part of your bedtime routine.

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6. Test yourself for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea can be life-threatening. The condition is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. That’s why it’s crucial to get a proper diagnosis if you think you have it. 

You used to have to spend the night in a sleep lab to get a diagnosis, but now you can take a home sleep test. The test gives your doctor much of the same information, but it’s more convenient and less expensive. 

Here’s what you need to know about home sleep tests.

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7. Tidy up your bedroom

World Sleep Day falls smack-dab in the middle of spring cleaning season, so now’s the perfect time to get serious about decluttering. Clutter can cause stress, which makes it harder to get shuteye. One study even shows that people who are at risk of hoarding disorder suffer from poor sleep. Here’s how to use the KonMari decluttering method for a neater bedroom.

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8. Stretch your body

A nightly stretching practice can help your body understand that it’s time for bed. Gentle stretches like child’s pose and seated twist will get you in the mood for sleep and help prevent you from waking up in pain. 

Here are step-by-step instructions for relaxing nighttime stretches.

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9. Give your phone a break

The bright blue light emitted by your phone can keep you up at night. If you’re addicted to the pre-bed scroll through Instagram, Facebook, and work emails (guilty!), it’s time to clean up your sleep hygiene. Instead of scrolling through social media from bed, listen to a relaxing podcast or a guided meditation. Use Bluetooth headphones so you can keep your phone in another room. 

Here are more ways to break up with your phone before bed.

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10. Eat a late-night snack

Late-night snacks have a bad reputation when it comes to sleep. Eating too close to bedtime can keep you awake or disrupt your sleep with indigestion and acid reflux. But some foods, like avocados and oatmeal, actually promote sleep. So if you’re feeling hungry before bed, a little (non-spicy) guacamole could be just the ticket. 

Here are the best late-night snacks to eat before bed.

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