Sleep is a vital, yet often neglected, component of everyone's overall health and well-being. Sleep is important because this is the period where your body repairs itself and recharges itself to be fit and ready for the next day. Getting adequate rest can help prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and of course your immune system. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Those are some scary outcomes, but they can be reversed if you give your body the proper 7-9 hours that it needs. Every Night. If you find yourself having trouble with cutting the lights out for the night and getting your rest, Here are some useful tips to help you both recover and sleep better tonight!
1. Wake up at the same time each day
It is tempting to sleep late on weekends, especially if you have had poor sleep during the week. However, if you suffer from insomnia you should get up at the same time every day in order to train your body to wake at a consistent time. Your body runs on a circadian rhythm which acts like your body's internal master-clock, running in the background and carrying out essential functions and processes. When properly aligned, a circadian rhythm can promote consistent and restorative sleep. But when this circadian rhythm is thrown off, it can create significant sleeping problems, including insomnia.
2. Digital Detox
Avoid any screens or blue light 30-60 minutes before bed. Smart phones, tablets, computer screens, TVs, and digital clocks emit blue light, a short frequency of light that may be harmful to the eyes and disrupt sleep. You can also string up black out curtains which can block out ambient light.
Hey iPhone users, did you know that you can set your phone up to limit your screen time at night and start the wind down process? Just go to your clock app and turn on the sleep tab and it will ask which apps you would like to limit in a given timeframe, and if you try to access them in this window it gives you reminder that it is probably better to just put the phone down, then surf the web or scroll down your timeline one more time. This has been a great help in me getting to sleep quicker.
3. Limit Coffee & Alcohol Intake
We are all addicted to one thing or another, my addiction, which is the same for many others is coffee. For all of coffee's known benefits, there are also some downsides. For one the effects of caffeine can last for several hours, usually up to 6-8 hours, so the chances of it affecting sleep if you down a mug in the afternoon or evening are significant. Caffeine may not only cause difficulty initiating sleep, but may also cause frequent awakenings.
Alcohol may have a sedative effect for the first few hours following consumption, but it can then lead to frequent awakening, dehydration, and a non-restful night's sleep.
4. Limit naps
Short power naps are great and may be just what you need to finish your work day strong. However, while napping would seem like a proper way to catch up on missed sleep, it is not always so as napping can affect the quality of nighttime sleep. It is important to establish and maintain a regular sleep pattern and train oneself to associate sleep with cues like darkness and a consistent bedtime to keep that all so important circadian rhythm in order.
5. Exercise Regularly
This one should be higher up on the list. A great workout can improve sleep quality and duration, remember sleep is when your body recovers. However, exercising immediately before bedtime can have a stimulant effect on the body and should be avoided. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before you plan to shut out for the night.
6. Limit activities in bed
If you are one of the many who suffer from not getting adequate sleep, do not balance the checkbook, study, or make phone calls, for example, while in bed or even in the bedroom, avoid watching television or youtube. All these activities can increase alertness and make it difficult to fall asleep. Only two activities should occur in your bed. Sleeping and having fun with your spouse or partner, that's it.
7. Do not eat or drink right before going to bed
Eating a late dinner or snacking before going to bed will activate your digestive system and metabolism potentially keeping you up. If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) or heartburn, it is even more important to avoid eating and drinking right before bed since this can make your symptoms worse. In addition, drinking a lot of fluids prior to bed can overwhelm the bladder, requiring frequent visits to the bathroom that disturb your sleep.
8. Make your sleeping environment comfortable
Temperature, lighting, and noise should be controlled to make your bedroom conducive to what it is intended to do. Help you fall and stay asleep. Your bed and sheets should feel comfortable. Your room should be lightly cool and completely dark. If you happen to have a pet that sleeps in the room with you, consider having the pet sleep somewhere else then the bed if it tends to make noise in the night, keeping you up.
9. Get all your worrying over with before you go to bed
If you find you lay in bed thinking about tomorrow, consider setting aside a period of time, say after dinner, to review your day and to make plans for the next day. The goal is to avoid doing these things in the final hours when you should be trying to fall asleep. It is also useful to make a list of things to do the next day, set out your work & workout clothes. These are some very helpful ways to get rid of next day anxiety.
10. Reduce stress
There are a number of relaxation therapies and stress reduction methods you may want to try to relax both your mind and body before getting some rest. Guided meditations, breathing techniques, visualization, reading, just to name a few.
Try including these tips into your nightly routine to improve sleep hygiene, support a healthy circadian rhythm, fall asleep quicker and wake up feeling more refreshed, and recover faster. If you have persistent or severe sleeping problems, daytime drowsiness, and/or a problematic sleep schedule, it’s important to talk with a doctor who can best diagnose the cause and offer the most appropriate treatment.