There’s an epidemic in this country that no one is talking about. It affects 1 out of every 3 adults and costs businesses more than $400 billion a year. Almost 1.25 million workdays are lost every year for this reason alone. And while the U.S. isn’t the only country dealing with this public health issue, we are losing more to it than any other country in the world.
When I tell you what it is, you’re going to be shocked. Not because it’s so horrible, but because it seems so innocent, so unimportant. Still, remember those numbers, and realize: it’s a big deal. Are you ready?
It’s sleep deprivation-and it’s costing us. Nearly 9 million people take sleeping pills on a regular basis, and 50 to 70 million people struggle with full-blown sleep disorders.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who struggle to get to sleep at night, it’s costing you as well. Your health, your productivity, and your well-being can all be suffering if you’re regularly getting less than seven hours of sleep a night.
But what are you supposed to do about it? You certainly don’t want to take a sleeping pill, and you’ve already cut out caffeine in the afternoons. I understand your frustration, so we’ve come up with a list of all-natural, proven alternatives to help you fall asleep without a sleeping pill.
- Get out of bed. This may seem counterintuitive, but lying in bed, staring at the ceiling or your clock really isn’t helping. All you’re doing is teaching yourself that being awake in bed is a viable option. Instead, if you’ve been awake for twenty minutes and sleep just isn’t coming, get up. Once you’re up, make sure you choose an activity that encourages sleep. That means no electronics, no physical activity, and no big meals. Read a book, work a crossword puzzle, or make a cup of herbal tea. The key is to stay busy, but not get your adrenaline pumping. When you start to feel sleepy, head back to bed. Eventually, you will retrain your mind to know that bed is for sleep.
- Go ahead and pop a pill. Just not a sleeping pill! Herbal supplements have been respected in traditional medicines as sleep aids for centuries, and modern research is finally catching up. Passion flower is especially good if your anxiety is keeping you up nights. An impressive study showed this herb reduced anxiety as well as one of the most common anti-anxiety prescription medications, allowing people to relax and get to sleep. The best part is there was no residual drowsiness the next day. Valerian is a natural sedative that boosts GABA, a chemical that helps calm the brain impulses so you can rest. And of course, melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep patterns. Taking it at bedtime can help your body recognize it’s time for sleep.
- Check your diet. Certain nutritional deficiencies, specifically magnesium and calcium, can cause sleep problems. Higher magnesium levels have been linked to deeper sleep. So if you’re waking up in the middle of the night, consider stocking up on magnesium-rich foods during the day. Calcium plays an important role in your body’s ability to create melatonin naturally. Without it, your sleep patterns will fall out of sync, and you’ll be awake at night.
- Use your evening to prepare for your night. Sometimes, the best way to have a good night’s sleep is to make smart choices before bedtime. Spend at least an hour before you crawl into bed winding down from the day. Turn off your computer, tablet, and smart phone. Unplug your brain, and just relax. There’s no right or wrong choice here, so long as you’re being peaceful and calm. And if you find you need longer than an hour, take it.
Stop being part of the 1/3 of Americans who fight to sleep every night. From supplements to behavior modification, you can find a way to get to sleep, and stay asleep, every night.