An estimated 27% of Americans have trouble staying asleep or falling asleep most nights. Whether you’re tossing and turning at night because of work stress, physical discomfort, or for some other reason, finding ways to improve the quality of your sleep is essential to your overall health.\n\nIn this post, we’ll look at the importance of sleep and how it impacts your general health and, we’ll offer up some tips that can help you if you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Read on to get insight on these topics and more, or use the links below to navigate to the section you’re most interested in.\n\nHow Sleep Impacts Your Overall Health\nFactors That Can Affect Quality of Sleep\n\nHow to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep:\n\n\n Rethink your sleeping environment\n Manage chronic stress\n Adjust your diet and limit caffeine\n Exercise earlier in the day\n Practice sleep-promoting habits\n Address physical discomfort and medical concerns\n\n\nFinal Notes\n\n\nHow Sleep Impacts Your Overall Health\nBesides being a time for your body and brain to relax after a long day, sleep plays an important role in our overall health. On a biological level, there are four main theories that help explain why sleep is essential:\n\nThe inactivity theory says animals use sleep as a survival tool, allowing them to be quiet and still when they may be most vulnerable to predators.\nThe energy conservation theory suggests that sleep is simply a way to reserve energy for more energy-intensive tasks, such as hunting and gathering, later on.\nThe restorative theory states that sleep serves as an opportunity for the body to heal and restore itself.\nThe brain plasticity theory suggests that sleep is critical to brain development, function, and organization.\n\nWhat happens when we sleep that makes these 7-9 hours so crucial to maintaining our general wellness. According to the US National Library of Medicine, good quality sleep can help you:\n\nFeel more alert\nHave a more optimistic perspective\nHave better judgement\nSucceed in relationships\nMaintain immune efficiency\n\nIn addition to the benefits of quality sleep, there are several consequences related to lack of sleep:\n\nIrritability, anger\nFeeling overwhelmed\nLack of interest, motivation, or energy\nLoss of patience with family and friends\nTendency to skip exercise\nIncrease in stress\n\n\nFactors That Can Affect Quality of Sleep\nThe CDC recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, but for many of us, this goal isn’t always easily attained. But why is it so difficult to stay asleep?\n\nAccording to the University of Minnesota, several factors can affect the quality and duration of your sleep, including:\n\nChronic stress\nYour sleeping environment (i.e. light and noise exposure)\nStress in relationships\nDiet, especially excess sugar, caffeine, and alcohol\nMedical conditions\n\nNow that you’re more familiar with the underlying reasons that may be causing you to toss and turn at night, let’s consider some tips to help improve the quality of your sleep.\n\n\nHow to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep\nAs we discussed, there are a number of factors, like stress, pain, and diet, that can negatively impact the quality of your sleep. Thankfully, many of these issues can be circumvented with simple lifestyle changes. Let’s take a look.\n\n1. Rethink your sleeping environment\nYour environment can have a substantial impact on the quality of your sleep. If you’ve ever tried sleeping with the curtains open or a neighbor’s loud music blaring, you know what we mean. If noise and light pollution are common offenders that affect your sleep, it may be time to rethink your sleep setup.\nHere are a few tools and tips that can help you deal with noise, light, and temperature issues:\n\nBlackout curtains can help block out light and minimize sound\nWhite noise machines mimic consistent, soothing sounds like ocean waves or fan sounds\nBefore you go to bed, set your thermostat to 65°F, the ideal temperature for sleep \n\n\n2. Manage chronic stress\nAccording to the American Psychological Association, 43% of American adults say that stress is a primary reason they have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. As we mentioned earlier in this post, sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of stress—this is what the American Psychological Association calls the stress sleep cycle. You end up feeling stressed, so you can’t sleep, only to get more stressed because you’re not getting enough sleep.\nManaging chronic stress can be a challenging obstacle that involves varying levels of integrated treatment. This may include medication and counseling, among other therapies. If stress is keeping you up at night, here are a few techniques that you can use to mitigate your stress symptoms at home:\n\nIdentify your stress triggers\nLearn your stress signals (i.e. muscle tension, lack of energy, irritability, difficulty focusing)\nRecognize how you usually deal with stress\nExplore healthy ways to manage your stress, such as:\n\nMeditation\nExercise\nTalking with friends and family\n\n\nTake care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, drinking water, taking breaks from work, and getting enough sleep.\n\n\n3. Adjust your diet and limit caffeine\nDiet has a significant impact on your overall health and your body’s ability to obtain adequate sleep. Ingredients with high levels of sugar and caffeine can make you feel more awake, which in turn, make you feel restless when you’re trying to go to sleep.\nAvoiding these substances later on in the day can help you fall asleep more quickly, and as a result, improve the quality of your sleep.\n\n4. Exercise earlier in the day\nWhile great for both body and mind, exercise causes your body to accelerate the production of energy-enhancing hormones. After a workout, you may feel this residual energy for hours to come. When you exercise later on in the day or right before bed, you may have trouble falling asleep because you’re feeling alert after your workout.\nIf your schedule allows, try to plan your workout earlier on in the day, or opt for more gentle exercises, like yoga and stretching in the latter half.\n\n5. Practice sleep-promoting habits\nIf you’re having trouble falling asleep or keep waking up throughout the night, give these healthy sleep habits a try:\n\nSet a consistent sleep routine—go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends\nSchedule your bedtime so that you can get at least 7 hours of sleep\nDon’t go to bed unless you’re tired\nTry to wind down before bedtime by doing relaxing activities\nAvoid using electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime\nMinimize exposure to bright lights before bed\nAvoid consuming alcohol or caffeine before bedtime\nTry not to drink caffeine in the late afternoon or evening\nEat healthy and exercise regularly\n\n\n6. Address physical discomfort and medical concerns\nIn addition to stress and environmental triggers, physical discomfort can be another common offender of interrupted sleep. Acid reflux and shoulder pain are two examples.\nFor many individuals, acid reflux actually worsens at night and leads to poor sleep. This happens because the gravity that normally helps keep acid in your stomach is no longer able to do so when you’re lying down. This, in combination with the curvature of the esophagus, makes it easier for acid to escape from the stomach and reflux into the esophagus, where it can cause lasting damage.\nFor these reasons, doctors recommend those with acid reflux to sleep at an incline on their left side. This is considered the best sleeping position for acid reflux because it naturally helps keep stomach acid from entering the esophagus while you’re lying down. MedCline’s Reflux Relief System helps you comfortably achieve this sleeping posture by keeping your torso elevated while relieving pressure off of your downside arm.\nAs for shoulder pain, our Shoulder Relief System helps alleviate nighttime shoulder pain, and as a result, has a 95% sleep improvement rating. Better yet, the system uses gel-infused foam for cooling comfort, medical-grade materials for effectiveness and longevity, and only takes up ½ of a queen-sized bed.\n\nFinal Notes\nIf you’re having trouble staying asleep or getting to sleep at all, we hope this resource helps. From work and relationship stress to physical discomfort and environmental triggers, many factors can keep us from getting a good night’s sleep.\nWith a better understanding of why you may be struggling with sleep, you can find the best solution for your needs. If you’re dealing with shoulder pain or acid reflux at night, visit our FAQ page or speak with a sleep specialist to learn how MedCline can help improve your sleep today.