Your sleep has become the target of almost as many scams as your diet. Sleep, or perhaps sleeplessness, is a $70B industry, and projected to top $100B in the next two years. The challenge is perplexing. There must be something in the water. All over the world, regardless of ethnicity, creed, economic, or educational status, people are having more trouble sleeping than ever. People are having as many as three sleepless nights a week and there is no sign of things getting any better.
No one seems to know exactly what is at the root of the problem. We are spending ridiculous amounts of money on computerized sleep trackers that tell us what we already know. We are not sleeping well. What the trackers can’t seem to do is tell us exactly why that is, and what we can do about it. There is no consensus. There just seems to be a combination of things that are all over the map. What seems to work for some people only exacerbates the problem in others. That said, there does seem to be some patterns that can be mined for insight. The consensus is in. If you want a better night’s sleep on a more consistent basis, start with these 3 things:
1. Alcohol Abuse
You are probably tired of hearing the people closest to you express concerns about your drinking. The fact that you are hearing it at all, and from more than one person, suggests you could use some help with alcoholism. It is something that creeps up on a person who is confident that she is in control. The thing about the disease is that the one suffering from it is always the last to know.
Ironically, it might start out as a way to induce sleep. Alcohol tends to have that effect. First, it’s a nightcap, then, a stop off at the bar after work before heading home. Pretty soon, you can’t even get the bad sleep you were getting without a few evening drinks. Drinking one’s self unconscious is not a substitute for real sleep. You do not wake up refreshed and ready to face a challenging day. It takes longer and gets more difficult to wake up sufficiently to function. You have a harder day and need even more help getting to sleep. Put down the bottle and pick up the phone. If you want something like a good night’s sleep, start by dealing with alcohol addiction.
2. Ditch That Budget Mattress
It doesn’t take a genius to know that a better mattress can help you get a better sleep. If you doubt it, try this experiment: Tonight, sleep on the floor and use a stone as a pillow. Better yet, don’t do that. Just the thought of it should illustrate how much better your bed is to the worst possibility. If you got that far in the thought experiment, it shouldn’t be a huge leap to realize that a significantly better mattress than what you have can produce an even better sleep experience.
If you are the type of person who has always just bought the budget mattress, you might have a simple fix: Ditch it for something much better. The challenge for many people is accepting the fact that good mattresses are expensive and worth it. You are trying to get to a point where you are sleeping a third of your life. We really need that much. What you sleep on really matters and it is really worth it. Invest the time it takes to research your options. Then, invest the money.
3. Record the Late Show
Nighttime entertainment is an important part of your sleep process. I get it. But you don’t actually have to stay up to 1:00am to watch the Late Show with your favorite comedian. You can record it and watch it anytime the next day or evening. Experts say one of the best things you can do from a behavioral level to help your sleep is go to bed at a consistent time every night and get up at a consistent time every morning. If you want the 8 hours, you have to go through the motions. Your body will eventually get the message.
Once you address chemical addictions, ditch the budget mattress, and normalize your sleep hours, you will be well on your way to taking control of your sleep.