Guest Post from Susan Treadway:

Poor sleep affects everything, from your performance at work to your moods at home. When sleeping problems are interfering with your life, prescription sleep aids can seem like an obvious solution. You’ll get the sleep you need and all you have to do is pop a pill.

Unfortunately, sleeping pills aren’t so straightforward. While prescription sleep aids can help you fall and stay asleep, the effects don’t last with continued use. And when people stop the drugs, their sleep problems tend to return — sometimes worse. Sleeping pills also cause daytime drowsiness and, in new users, certain sleep aids double the risk of a car accident.

Researchers agree that the best way to solve sleep problems isn’t by taking a pill, but rather through long-term lifestyle changes. So, if insomnia is seriously affecting your life, then take these steps for better sleep instead of turning to medication.

Stick to a Routine

A regular sleep schedule is just as important for adults as for children. That’s because your body relies on its internal clock, or circadian rhythm, to know when to fall asleep or wake up. Without a consistent routine, the internal clock can’t do its job.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a night owl or early riser as long as you’re consistent. If you have to wake up early for work, count backward from your wake time to make sure you can get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. You should also avoid sleeping in too much on weekends — as nice as a lazy morning may feel, it’s setting you up for trouble on Sunday night.

Optimize Your Sleep Environment

When it comes to the bedroom, there are a few common culprits that keep you up.

Electronics in the bedroom

Experts recommend keeping electronics out of the bedroom because they keep your mind alert long after you should be asleep. If you like watching TV to fall asleep, try playing a white noise app or listening to a relaxing audiobook instead.

An uncomfortable mattress

It doesn’t matter how peaceful your bedroom is if you can’t get comfortable. Make sure your bed is big enough for both you and your partner to sleep comfortably. While queen beds are the standard size for couples, hot sleepers and people with larger builds need a king-sized mattress. You’ll also want to pay attention to firmness: While a medium-firm mattress like the Leesa Hybrid is ideal for petite people and combo sleepers, heavier people will prefer a mattress with a range of firmness levels, like the Winkbed and Winkbed Plus.

Too high temperatures

While you may keep your house a toasty 70 degrees during the day, you’ll sleep better if you turn the thermostat down to between 60 and 67 degrees at night. Not only do cooler temperatures help you fall asleep, but sleeping in a cool house is also better for your health.

Live an Active Lifestyle

Perhaps the most underrated way to improve sleep quality is through exercise. While you might attribute those extra pounds or achy knee to a lack of exercise, most people don’t realize that a sedentary lifestyle nearly doubles their risk of sleep problems.

Exercise is an especially valuable sleep remedy in times of high stress. In fact, countless people have turned to fitness and nutrition during their recovery from addiction, because not only does exercise fight stress and improve sleep, it also strengthens self-discipline and gives people a source of confidence during a challenging time. Martial arts like Dragon Gym’s adult martial arts and Muay Thai classes can be especially beneficial for those coming out of rehab thanks to the martial arts’ emphasis on self-mastery and discipline.

There’s no question that these lifestyle changes are a lot harder than taking a pill. However, if you’re serious about solving your sleep problems, lasting changes like these are the only solution. Instead of short-term fixes that cause more problems down the line, get serious about living a lifestyle that makes sleep — and all the benefits it brings — a priority.

Image via Unsplash

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