It's easy to take sleep for granted until you have a night where it takes you hours to fall asleep. Lack of sleep not only stresses and tires you out the night of but also the following day. It's much harder to reach peak productivity levels when you are sleep deprived.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 45% of Americans experience at least one unproductive day a week due to inadequate sleep. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can help yourself get a good night's sleep.

White Noise

Noise can definitely be one of the reasons you're having trouble falling asleep. It may be a snoring partner or street noise that's preventing you from dosing off. White noise, however, can actually trick your brain into falling asleep. White noise is sounds that have some consistency in terms of frequency. This sort of noise has a masking effect that can block out changes in other sounds you hear.

If you're constantly being distracted by various sounds when you're trying to go to sleep, try playing some white noise. You can play white noise via Youtube or you can download various apps to your phone or tablet. They also sell machines that will play white noise. The placement of the device playing white noise is crucial to your ability to fall asleep. Place the source of the music at a point where it can flawlessly spread to the rest of the room.

Room Temperature

Feeling too hot or too cold can hold you back from falling asleep. An initial drop in temperature signals the body to sleep however, a sudden rise or drop in temperature disrupts REM sleep. The optimal temperature for falling asleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Are you losing sleep because your partner prefers a different temperature than you? Instead of fighting over the thermostat, try to compromise. You could buy a dual control electric blanket so that you both can control your ideal sleep temperature. The material in your pajamas can also make a difference. Clothing made of tightly woven materials like polyester and flannel will help keep you warm and light materials like bamboo or cotton will help keep you cool.

Lighting

I'm sure you've heard that you should turn off your devices an hour before you want to go to sleep so that you're able to fall asleep easier. The reason behind that is that artificial light, like blue light from phones and computers, can reduce the level of melatonin your body produces making it more difficult for you to fall asleep.

The best way to avoid altering your body's melatonin production is to turn off devices at least 30 minutes before bed. I know this isn't always possible. You may have to study or finish a project for work. The other alternative is to download blue-light-filtering apps on your phone to prevent the lights from affecting your circadian rhythm. You can also buy programmable lights for your room so you're able to dim them closer to the time you want to go to bed. If you need complete darkness to fall asleep, consider sleeping with a mask to block out all light.

Exercise

Exercise affects sleep hygiene in a couple of different ways. For one, the rise and drop of your body temperature after exercising signals your body that it's soon going to be time to sleep. Working out also helps your body reduce stress. Regular stress can damage your sleep hygiene and encourage sleep disorders.

Test the waters and try working out at different times and find what works best for you. Exercise in the evening may impact sleep for some and not at all for others. Be sure to limit excessive exercise and intense workouts in the evening. If you definitely prefer nighttime workouts, consider opting for lower impact exercises like yoga. Save the HIIT classes for the morning hours.

Breathing Patterns

The way you breath can also seriously impact your sleep. Heavy breaths will help you fall asleep fast and shallow breaths will keep you awake. This is because breathing influences the heart rate and induces relaxation. Try to be mindful of your breathing when you're settling down. The following is a relaxation technique to try:

The 4-8-7 Method

  • During the technique, your tongue should be placed just behind your teeth against the upper ridge.
  • While you're breathing, exhale through your mouth while making a whooshing sound.
  • Then, inhale through your nose while counting to 4.
  • Hold your breath and count to 7.
  • Finally, exhale through your mouth while counting to 8 and making the whooshing sound.

The 4-8-7 technique was created by Dr. Andrew Weil. He says that it can help you fall asleep within minutes. He suggests that you first start the breathing exercise while sitting up and then continue it when you're ready to lay down completely.

Your sleep hygiene greatly depends on the little things you do every day. Try sticking to a workout and sleep routine so your body begins to learn the pattern. Using the above techniques should help improve your sleep. You could also try taking a natural sleep aid. Our sleep aid supplement, Sleep and Relax, uses sensoril, melatonin, hemp, and lepticore to relax your brain and calm the nerves in your stomach and gut. Buy Sleep and Relax here.