Millions of Americans are hoping that 2024 will be the year of restful sleep for them.
But how can they make this wish for dreamy sleep a reality from January to December?
The challenge of getting quality shut-eye is very real.
In a recent survey, the Sleep Foundation found that 37% of U.S. adults slept somewhat or much worse in 2023 than in previous years.
And members of Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) were at the top of the list for sleep challenges.
The survey also revealed that in 2023, the keyword "sleep" reached an all-time high, according to Google Trends.
Tired Americans are eager to try sleep hacks to improve their sleep, and the same survey stated these sleep inducers were: showering before bed (45%), using a weighted blanket (26%) and keeping a bedroom window open (26%).
In addition, 27% of the respondents revealed they exercised more to improve sleep, 27% said they woke up earlier, and 25% said they limited or avoided caffeine in the evenings — while only 19% said they turned off their phones when they retired to bed.
Sleep seekers also tried popular products to induce rest.
Respondents splurged on comfortable pillows (40%), quality sheets (24%), and a new mattress (23%), said the Sleep Foundation.
But what about advice from sleep medicine specialists?
Fox News Digital asked two doctors for their best sleep advice for getting a better night’s sleep this year.
Why is sleep such a challenge for American adults?
There are many potential reasons that sleep can become disrupted, say experts.
"Some reasons include common medical problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, prostate difficulties, chronic pain disorders, psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety, and medication side effects," said Nicholas Kallay, M.D., with Novant Health Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine in Shallotte, North Carolina.
Other sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and simply not allowing ourselves enough time to sleep can all contribute to challenges with getting a good night’s sleep, he also said.
What are some sleep trips to try?
Some people often have more than one reason for sleep troubles, so it’s important to identify contributing causes and address as many of those causes as possible, said Kallay.
"If we get too fixated on addressing one cause and neglect the others, we are less likely to get the overall improvement we would like to see," Kallay told Fox News Digital.
Here are some tips to consider.
Stick to a regular bedtime and rise time. Even on the weekends, try to start your day at about the same time as you do on weekdays.
"Our bodies favor sticking to routines," noted Kallay.
Avoid napping. It's best to skip naps, especially naps lasting longer than an hour and naps late in the day.
"If you sleep during the day, your body will be less inclined to want to sleep at night," said Kallay.
Skip alcohol. You may think it will induce sleep, but it could have the opposite impact.
"Avoid the temptation to use alcohol to help fall asleep," Kallay advised. "While alcohol can help make you initially drowsy, as your body processes it, the breakdown products of alcohol actually tend to disrupt sleep."
Create a setting for sleep. Your bedroom should be a place fit for rest.
"Make sure your sleeping environment favors sleeping. Do your best to sleep in a place that is dark, quiet, comfortable and free of distractions," he said.
That means no television on, no dogs jumping on the bed, etc., he said.
Try to tune out stress. When you go to bed, try and ignore the stressful problems that are keeping you tense and awake, said Kallay.
"Instead, when trying to go to sleep, paint a picture in your head of a nice, relaxing vacation you were on in the past."
Another thing to keep in mind is that just because you want to try and wind down, know that you’re not neglecting anything or anybody by doing this, said Kallay.
"You are unlikely to solve any of your problems or anybody else’s problems after a sleepless night," he said.
He noted that if you don’t take steps to sleep well at night, "you are probably less likely to be in a state the following day when you may be able to do something about the difficulties causing you stress," he said.
What are some other lifestyle and health tips for more restful nights?
Daytime choices and pre-bedtime behavior may be the cause of sleep challenges, suggested Kallay.
Here are some more tips.
Avoid caffeine after lunch. For some people, the stimulating effects of caffeine can last quite a few hours, Dr. Kallay noted.
Avoid nicotine. "Some people might find the routine of smoking before bed to be relaxing, but the chemical is stimulating," Kallay also said.
"Inhaling cigarette smoke or vaping has no meaningful health benefits — and you should stop smoking anyway."
Hold off on suspenseful entertainment prior to bedtime. Don’t watch an exciting movie or read an engaging book just before bed, he said.
Exercise, but not right before bed. "Exercise regularly, and the extra caveat here is not to exercise within a few hours of planned sleep."
Pay attention to spicy foods. "Some food, especially spicy and fatty food, can disrupt one’s sleep and should be avoided near bedtime," cautioned Peter Polos, M.D., PhD, a sleep medicine specialist and associate professor of sleep medicine at Hackensack JFK University Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey.
When should you consider taking sleep medication?
If lifestyle changes or modifications do not achieve desired sleep, a specialist may be needed, said Polos.
"Sleep medication should not be the first intervention," he also said.
"If, despite these efforts, your sleep is not restorative and fulfilling, you should seek guidance from a sleep specialist."
He added, "A review of sleep hygiene, evaluation for other sleep disorders and the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia should be the starting points. Medication plays a role much later in the workup."