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Sleep Awareness Week! What to Do When You Can’t Sleep: Expert Tips & Advice


Sleep Awareness Week! What to Do When You Can’t Sleep: Expert Tips & Advice

Welcome to Sleep Awareness Week! This week is all about raising awareness of the importance of sleep for our overall health and well-being. Of course, we all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. Whether it’s stress, anxiety or just an inability to turn off our minds, many of us struggle with getting the rest we need.

But fear not! We’ll share expert tips and advice on what to do when you can’t sleep. From implementing cozy bedroom ideas to create the perfect sleep environment to developing healthy sleep habits to support better sleep hygiene, we’ve got you covered. So if you’re tired of tossing and turning all night long, read on for some helpful insights and strategies.

What Is Sleep Awareness Week?

Sleep Awareness Week is an annual campaign spearheaded by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) to raise awareness of the importance of sleep for our health and well-being. This year, it will take place from March 12th to 18th, marking the campaign’s 25th anniversary. Sleep Awareness Week aims to encourage the public to recognize sleep as a crucial part of their overall health.

During this week, the NSF highlights best sleep health practices based on evidence and expert guidance. The campaign provides practical tips and advice to help people get enough quality sleep, which is essential for good health. And that’s why we’re excited to join the conversation and add our own recommendations for what to do when you can’t sleep. 

Sleep Awareness Week 2023 begins on March 12, coinciding with Daylight Saving Time, when most people lose an hour of sleep due to clock changes. So it’s the perfect time to start thinking about how to improve your sleep health and habits. 

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Understanding Sleep: The Basics

Understanding the basics of sleep is crucial for helping you get the rest you need. To start, let’s take a look at the stages of sleep. There are four stages of sleep, each with its own unique characteristics. The first three stages are non-REM (NREM) sleep, while the fourth is REM sleep. During NREM sleep, your body relaxes and prepares for deep sleep. Your heart rate and breathing slow down, and your muscles relax. During REM sleep, your brain becomes more active and your eyes move rapidly back and forth. This is also the stage when dreaming occurs. 

So how much sleep do adults need? According to experts, adults need between seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night. However, this can vary depending on individual factors such as age, lifestyle habits and overall health.

not getting enough quality sleep

The consequences of not getting enough quality sleep can be serious. For example, lack of sleep can lead to daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, mood changes such as irritability or depression, weakened immune system function and an increased risk of accidents or injuries. It can also worsen symptoms brought on by existing health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease or exasperate transitional hormone flu-like symptoms during adolescence and menopause.

In the long term, chronic lack of quality sleep can also increase the risk for various health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. So if you’re having trouble sleeping consistently throughout the night, it’s important to take steps to improve your quality of rest as soon as possible.

Common Causes of Sleep Problems

Getting a good night’s sleep is often easier said than done. Many factors can contribute to poor sleep quality, making you tired and groggy the next day. So let’s take a closer look at some of the most common causes of sleep problems.

  • Stress and anxiety – Mental health issues such as stress and anxiety can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep throughout the night. Racing thoughts or worries about work, family or other personal issues can keep your mind active when you should be winding down for rest.
  • Poor sleeping habits – Bad habits like irregular sleeping times, inconsistent bedtime routines or using your bed for activities other than sleep (like watching TV, studying or working) can make getting a good night’s rest harder.
  • Irregular sleeping schedule – Inconsistent sleep schedules, such as shift work or jet lag from traveling across time zones, can disrupt your circadian rhythm — the natural 24-hour cycle that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Using electronic devices before bed – The blue light emitted by electronic screens such as smartphones, tablets and computers suppresses melatonin production. This makes it harder to fall asleep. Additionally, constant notifications from social media apps can keep your brain active and make it difficult to relax.
  • Drinking caffeine or alcohol before bed – Consuming caffeine too close to bedtime can interfere with falling asleep because caffeine has a half-life of around four to six hours. On the other hand, alcohol may help you doze off initially but disrupts the quality of deep REM sleep stages later in the night.
  • Medical conditions that affect sleep – A wide range of medical conditions like chronic pain, allergies, breathing difficulties like Sleep Apnea or Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), hormonal imbalances and medication side effects can all interfere with getting a good night’s rest.
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Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Creating the perfect sleep environment is key to getting a good night’s rest. From cozy bedding to relaxing scents, there are many ways to transform your bedroom into a haven for restful sleep. And let’s not forget the importance of mattresses — finding the right one can make all the difference in achieving quality rest. Let’s explore some tips and tricks for creating a comfortable sleep space and establishing healthy bedtime habits.

Creating a Cozy Bedroom Environment

Creating a comfortable bedroom environment is essential for achieving quality sleep. Investing in high-quality mattresses and pillows is one of the most important factors in creating such an environment. A good mattress should provide adequate support to your body and sleep type while ensuring you don’t feel any pressure points that could cause discomfort or pain. It’s important to note that different types of mattresses work better for different people — some prefer the softness of memory foam mattresses. In contrast, others prefer the firmer support of a Serta mattress. Preferences vary based on sleep position and preference — but we’re fortunate to have many great options available to meet every sleeper’s needs.

In addition to a comfortable sleeping surface, lighting and temperature control are crucial elements of a cozy bedroom. The ideal bedroom should be cool and dark, with temperatures ranging between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposure to light can interfere with melatonin production, essential for regulating sleep-wake cycles. Investing in blackout curtains or eye masks can help block out any unwanted light.

Another essential factor to consider when creating a cozy sleep space is ambient noise levels. While some people may prefer complete silence when they sleep, others might find it comforting to listen to white noise or calming sounds like ocean waves or rainfall. Again, experimenting with different sounds can help you determine what works best for you.

Last, adding personal touches like soft blankets or plush rugs can make your bedroom feel more inviting and relaxing. Consider incorporating scents like lavender or chamomile into your bedtime routine as well. These natural aromas have been shown to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.

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Establishing a Bedtime Routine

Establishing a bedtime routine is an important aspect of maintaining good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and practices that help promote healthy, restful sleep. Incorporating a consistent bedtime routine into your daily schedule can help signal to your body that it’s time for rest and relaxation. Let’s explore some examples and scenarios you might relate to or consider implementing in your routine.

For parents of young children, establishing a bedtime routine can be challenging but crucial for ensuring everyone gets the rest they need. One effective strategy is to use time effectively while also making sure to carve out some time for yourself. This could mean starting with activities like reading a book or taking a warm bath to take care of the kiddos, and then moving on to taking care of yourself with a relaxing cup of chamomile tea, a good face mask or some light stretching. 

If you’re an early-20s university student, simplicity is key when it comes to establishing a bedtime routine. Forming habits that will last a lifetime but also help in the present moment can be especially beneficial during these formative years. Some examples might include turning off electronics an hour before bed, practicing deep breathing exercises or meditation or drinking a cup of herbal tea. These simple habits can help promote relaxation and establish healthy sleep patterns that will serve students well throughout their lives.

Retired adults may have more free time to indulge in bedtime routines than other age groups. Drawing out the process by including activities like a warm shower or bath can be particularly beneficial in promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels. Other ideas include reading books or listening to calming music before bed, using aromatherapy with scents like lavender or chamomile and engaging in gentle activities like knitting or coloring.

Incorporating a consistent bedtime routine into your daily schedule takes effort and dedication but can significantly improve the quality of your sleep. The focus isn’t on getting yourself into bed but on training your brain to understand that sleep is coming and it should be ready. By finding activities that work for you based on your lifestyle needs and preferences, you’ll be able to create a personalized routine that helps you unwind at night and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.

Relaxation Techniques Before Bedtime

Relaxation Techniques Before Bedtime

People relax in different ways, and finding the proper relaxation technique that works for you can be vital to getting a good night’s sleep. Here are some techniques that you can try before bedtime to help improve your sleep quality:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body one at a time, starting from your toes and working up to your head. By doing this, you can release any tension that has built up in your muscles throughout the day. Guided muscle relaxation recordings are available on many streaming services as well.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Start by inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of four, holding it for seven counts, and then exhaling slowly through your mouth for eight counts. This technique helps slow your breathing and lower your heart rate, making it easier to fall asleep. It’s also good to use during the day if you’re feeling abnormally stressed, anxious or irritated. 

Guided Meditation

This is an excellent option for those looking to relax before bed. With mindfulness meditation, you focus on the present moment and let go of any distracting thoughts. There are many apps available that offer guided meditations designed specifically to help lull you to sleep.


This is a technique that can help clear your mind before bed. Writing down any worries or concerns that may keep you up at night can help alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation. You could also write down things that excite you or make you happy so that you can calm down and drift off to sleep feeling positive. 

Incorporating these relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine can help improve the quality of your sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels. Experiment with different techniques until you find what works best for you personally so you wake up feeling refreshed and energized every morning.

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Foods That Promote Better Sleep Quality

Eating certain foods before bed can help promote better sleep quality, though it should be noted that we need to avoid heavy meals before sleep, as these can lead to indigestion or interrupted sleep. But appropriately timed snacks containing the right nutrients can help you drift off to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. 

Focus on foods that contain melatonin, tryptophan, magnesium and calcium to help you get a good night’s rest. Here’s more about each of those, along with a few snack options that may help improve your sleep quality:


A hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Foods that contain melatonin include tart cherries, walnuts, almonds and kiwi fruit. Eating these foods may help increase your body’s natural production of melatonin.


An amino acid that helps us produce a feeling of sleepiness and a decrease in sleep latency, the time to fall asleep. Foods high in tryptophan include turkey, chicken, cheese, nuts, seeds, tofu and eggs.


A mineral that helps relax the muscles and calm the nervous system. Foods rich in magnesium include spinach, kale, pumpkin seeds, almonds and avocado.


Another mineral that promotes relaxation and helps reduce stress levels. Calcium-rich foods include milk (dairy or plant-based), yogurt and cheese.

While there are many foods that can promote better sleep quality, there are also some foods to avoid before bedtime. For example:

  • - Caffeine should be avoided at least four to six hours before bedtime, as it can interfere with falling asleep quickly.
  • - Foods high in sugar or refined carbohydrates should also be avoided before bedtime as they can cause blood sugar spikes followed by crashes, which could disrupt sleep patterns.
  • - Alcohol should be consumed only in moderation or avoided altogether, as it can disrupt your sleep cycle, causing frequent nighttime awakenings.

Incorporating these recommended foods into your diet while avoiding the ones listed above will help promote better sleep quality overall. However, it is important to note that dietary changes alone may not solve all of your sleeping problems. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional if you are experiencing persistent issues with insomnia or other sleep disorders.

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Final Thoughts on What to Do When You Can’t Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Sleep problems affect millions of people worldwide and can have severe consequences if left untreated. Fortunately, there are many techniques that you can try to help improve your sleep quality. From relaxation techniques to dietary changes, there are plenty of options available that can help promote better sleep. Finding the right technique or mattress that works for you personally may take some trial and error, but it’s worth the effort in the end.

By taking control of your sleep habits, you’ll be setting yourself up for a longer, happier life. You’ll feel more energized during the day, have greater mental clarity and improve overall well-being. So why not give some of these techniques a try? Experiment with different relaxation methods or add some melatonin-rich foods to your diet. The key is staying positive and trying until you find what works best for you.

We hope we have helped by providing tips and advice on improving your sleep quality. Wishing everyone a happy Sleep Awareness Week 2023!


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