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  • Writer's pictureCristina Macena

What the First International Sleep Poll Discovered About Getting Better Rest

The first poll ever conducted on international sleep habits makes for interesting reading. It’s full of practical information on how to get more restful sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation surveyed people in America, Europe, and Japan. The survey focused on sleeping conditions, how much sleep people are really getting, and what they are doing before bed.

Consider these concepts they discovered to enhance your own sleep.

Freshening Up Your Bedroom

Almost everyone agreed that they felt more relaxed when their bedroom smelled pleasant. More than 65% attempted to eliminate any undesirable odors.

1. Open a window. Ventilation works wonders. Even on the coldest days, try cracking the window open for a few minutes to get some fresh air. Installing a ceiling fan also helps.

2. Stop making your bed. Fold down your sheets in the morning. Avoid making the bed as soon as you get up because it traps in any odors that may be lingering in your sheets or blankets.

3. Banish shoes and dirty laundry from the bedroom. Store your footwear by the front door. Move your hamper to the utility room.

4. Use vinegar and baking soda. Spray your bedroom with vinegar to purify the air. Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet before vacuuming. Natural products tend to cost less than commercial air fresheners, and you may prefer the clean scent.

Performing Bedtime Rituals

Bedtime rituals are very different depending on what country you live in. Unfortunately, the worst habit was found to be the most widespread. About 85% of people worldwide are watching TV an hour before bed. Consider some alternatives.

1. Avoid electronics. The light and stimulation from TVs and computers makes it harder for the brain to feel drowsy. Remove electronic devices from the bedroom or cover them up.

2. Drink a hot beverage. In England, 43% consume a hot beverage before bed. Try a cup of chamomile tea or any drink without caffeine.

3. Pray or use breathing techniques. About 62% of Mexicans and 47% of North Americans said they pray or use breathing techniques at night before going to bed. If you’re focused on calming thoughts, you’ll rest easier.

4. Create alternative routines. There are plenty of things to do rather than playing Angry Birds. Take a warm bath or read a book instead.

Logging More Hours of Sleep

Less than 50% of people worldwide are sleeping well on a regular basis. Japan is doing the best with 54% saying they get a good night’s sleep almost every night. In the United States, 25% of those surveyed said they rarely, if ever, sleep well during the work week.

1. Stick to a consistent schedule. Try going to bed and getting up at about the same time during the week and on the weekends. You can sleep for an extra hour on days off, but too much variation may make it harder to stick to your sleep routine.

2. Take naps. Supplement your overnight hours with a nap. It’s best to lie down several hours before your regular bedtime to avoid interfering with your main resting period.

3. Exercise daily. Regular workouts are one of the most effective methods for enhancing the quality of your sleep. Find a variety of activities you enjoy. Aim to be active at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.

4. Darken your bedroom. Turning down the lights tells your brain it’s time to get ready for sleeping. Buy heavier curtains if your neighbor’s porch light shines too brightly.

If you’re like most people, a couple extra hours of shut eye will boost your physical and mental health. Turn off the TV, breathe in fresh air, and get to bed on time.

By the Urban Life Center Team

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