According to a study conducted in Princeton, NJ, 40% of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep per night. Instead, the average American sleeps around 6.8 hours per night. This lack of sleep can lead to serious health issues and cognitive impairment. So, why are Americans having such a hard time falling asleep?

A majority of the issues with sleeping have to do with the habits people set before, during, and after sleep. In a study conducted by Next Day Blinds, the most common way people unwind before bed is by watching a movie or show.

While this can be a nice way to relax and take a load off, watching television before bed can disrupt your sleeping patterns due to the blue-lights that come off of the screen. These short-wavelength-enriched lights affect levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength.

In other words, changes in sleep patterns due to these wavelengths can in turn shift the body’s natural clock, known as its circadian rhythm. This shift is what causes the most health issues. If your body is not following its natural rhythm while you’re sleeping, your natural pattern and REM cycle is disrupted. This causes a restless sleep which can lead to issues with your wakefulness and also individual clocks that dictate function in the body’s organs.   

So, how can you get more sleep each night? Create a nightly routine, and stick with it. Try to avoid using technology an hour before you go to sleep and make sure wherever you sleep has a relaxing vibe. Whether it’s black-out shades or a white-noise machine, use whatever tricks will help you catch more Z’s!