Research has shown that sleeping well has a direct bearing on your physical and mental health. As a matter of fact, sleep affects our immune system.

Unfortunately, not many people get enough sleep. Statistics show that 70 Million Americans have trouble sleeping. This has led to widespread reliance on prescription medication for sleep, an issue that has been baptized “America’s love affair with sleeping pills.?

No love affair ends well.

If you are considering a dalliance with the pills, open your eyes because there are other ways of getting a good night’s sleep. Here are four things you can do.

1. Respect Your Body’s Natural Rhythm

Your body has an internal clock that controls various biological activities, including sleeping and waking up. This clock is called the Circadian rhythm. A properly aligned rhythm promotes sleep, while one that’s not well aligned can cause you significant sleeping problems. Here’s how you can take advantage of this rhythm to improve your sleep.

Maintain a Consistent Sleep and Waking Time

Do your best to sleep and wake up at certain specific times. Ensure that the window between these two times is long enough for you to sleep well (at least seven hours) and that it spans most of the night.

Pick a bedtime when you’re normally tired, so you don’t have to toss and turn. If you consistently maintain such a rhythm, you’ll find that you don’t need an alarm clock and that you wake up feeling refreshed.

Take Short, Afternoon Naps

Naps are a good way to recharge and to catch up on lost sleep. Shorter naps help with motor skills and alertness, while longer naps help with decision-making skills, creativity, and memory.

If, however, you find it hard to fall asleep in the evening, then naps might escalate your problem. If you absolutely need to take a nap, make it short, about fifteen to twenty minutes and take it in the afternoon.

2. Control Your Light Exposure

Melatonin is a hormone that signals to your circadian rhythm when it’s time to hit the hay. Melatonin levels start to rise as it gets dark, and go down in the morning as the day grows brighter.

Light plays a key role in the production of melatonin. Too much light before you go to bed or too little of it during the day can upset your natural clock, negatively affecting sleep quality.

3. Carefully Control What You Eat

It may not be obvious, but eating habits during the day influence how well you sleep. Avoid taking any caffeinated drinks or smoking in the evening, since caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. Caffeine, especially, has long-lasting effects and can cause sleep problems up to ten hours after ingestion.

Similarly, avoid alcohol because it interferes with your sleep cycle. Take light meals in the evening and do not take too many liquids before bed, as frequent bathroom trips could disrupt your sleep.

4. Create a Conducive Environment for Sleep

While everything we’ve discussed will significantly increase your sleep quality, the environment where you sleep arguably makes the biggest difference.

A noisy, chilly, or excessively warm room will be uncomfortable to sleep in, which will discourage sleep. Additionally, ensure that your bed is comfortable enough, as a sore back and aching neck will likely reduce the amount and quality of sleep you get.

Try to Relax

Many people turn to sleeping pills to find better sleep, but it is often a regrettable course. You will have to battle a host of side effects, and you might never be able to sleep again without popping a pill. If you lead a healthy lifestyle and observe good sleeping habits, you will realize that finding sleep isn’t as hard as it might seem.