Do you get enough sleep? Here’s how to wake up feeling refreshed and rearing to go.
Getting a good nights sleep is more in your control than you might think…following healthy habits can make the difference between a restless and restful sleep. Research indicates we need 7 to 9 hours of good sleep for optimal performance, health and even weight management. Researchers have identified a variety of practices and routines that can help anyone maximize the hours they spend sleeping, even those affected by insomnia, jet lag or shift work.
Most people don’t get enough sleep. We live in a society that burns the candle at both ends…where we stay up all night to study, work or have fun. However, going without adequate sleep carries short and long term consequences. In the short term this can affect our judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even early death.
Adopting a good night-time routine may be the best way to get the sleep you need in this busy 24/7 world we live in. Here are 10 ways to a better nights sleep:
- Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine. As we all know, caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake. So avoid caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, coke, red bull etc) for 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Also smokers should refrain from using tobacco products too close to bedtime.
- Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep-Inducing Environment. A quiet dark environment will promote sound sleep. If noisy outside wear earplugs…use heavy curtains, blackout shades or an eye mask to block light. Keep the room temperature comfortably cool and well ventilated. Your bed should have a comfortable mattress and pillows…remember most mattresses wear out after 10 years. If you have pets that regularly wake you during the night, it may be a good idea to keep it or them out of your bedroom. Limit your bedroom activities to sleep and sex. Keeping computers, TV’s and work materials out of your room this will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.
- Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine. An hour or so before bed, have a bath (the rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness), read a book, watch TV or do some relaxing exercises. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities…like work or discussing emotional issues. If you tend to take your problems to bed…write them down and put them aside.
- Go to Sleep When Your Tired. If you’re not asleep after 20 minutes, get up and go to another room, do something relaxing like reading or listening to music until your tired enough to sleep.
- Use Light to Your Advantage. Natural light keeps your internal clock on a healthy sleep wake cycle. So let in the light first thing in the morning and get out of the office for a break during the day.
- Keep Your Internal Clock Set with a Consistent Sleep Schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s internal clock to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Having a regular sleep schedule helps to ensure better quality and consistent sleep.
- Exercise Early. Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly, as long as its done at least 3 hours before bed time or work out earlier in the day.
- Balance Fluid Intake. Drink enough fluid to prevent waking thirsty but not too much (too close to bedtime) that you have to get up during the night.
- Lighten Up on Evening Meals. Finish dinner several hours before bedtime and avoid foods that cause digestion. If you get hunger, snack on foods that won’t disturb your sleep…yoghurt or sandwich.
- Aim for 7 to 9 hours sleep per night
Some of these tips will be easier to include in your daily and nightly routine than others. However if you stick with them your chances of achieving restful sleep will improve. If your sleep difficulties don’t improve by adopting a better night-time routine, you may need to consult your doctor.