We all know how important it is to get enough sleep. Not only does it keep us more alert and focused during the day, it also has a huge effect on our physical health. Sleep is the body’s time to heal and repair itself and getting enough sleep helps avoid all types of illnesses, from the common cold to heart disease. Despite these benefits, however, many people don’t get those recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
It can be hard to make sure we’re getting the right amount of sleep, especially when we’re busy and there are so many other things that need our attention. Whether it’s the stress of a job, the temptation to stay up too late watching tv and scrolling through social media, or those nights when you just can’t seem to fall asleep, getting enough quality, uninterrupted sleep isn’t easy. But it is one of the most important ways to help our bodies stay healthy and functioning, so here are six tips to help ensure you get enough sleep and wake up well-rested:
- Turn off electronics before bed. It’s tempting to use that time before you fall asleep to check social media or finish a text conversation, but this a good way to ensure that you won’t fall asleep anytime soon. The light from your cell phone or laptop screen can keep your body from releasing hormones that help you fall asleep, so turning off or putting away those devices before going to bed can help your body relax and prepare for sleep.
- Avoid big meals and caffeine before going to bed. It seems obvious to avoid soda and coffee when you’re trying to sleep, but even eating a heavy meal can keep you from falling asleep. That said, don’t go to bed hungry, either! Being too hungry or too full causes discomfort that makes it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Drinking too much water before bed can also cause you to have to get up in the middle of the night, so stay hydrated during the day but avoid drinking too much before going to bed.
- Take time to de-stress before going to sleep. We all have stress in our lives, but lying awake in bed thinking about your worries keeps you from being well-rested and also can cause you more stress. Try writing your worries down or talking about them with someone before going to bed to get them off your chest before trying to sleep. Stress-relieving activities like reading or taking a bath can also help you relax before going to bed.
- Get some exercise earlier in the day. Working out is another really important part of staying healthy, so definitely get moving during the day. However, exercising too close to when you are trying to fall asleep can actually keep you up longer, because exercise raises your body temperature. A lower body temperature is better for sleeping, so putting a few hours between your workout and trying to sleep can help you fall asleep more quickly.
- Set the right room conditions. Too much light or noise in the room can keep you from falling asleep, so make sure to turn off any overhead lights or large lamps before bed and don’t leave the radio or TV on when you’re trying to fall asleep. Also make sure that the room isn’t too hot or too cold – a moderate temperature that’s just right will make it easier to get to sleep.
- Try a sleep schedule. Going to bed and getting up at a different time every day messes with your body’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock, and makes it harder to both fall asleep and wake up. Setting specific times to go to bed each night and get up each morning (even on weekends) reinforces this internal clock and helps ensure you get enough sleep and aren’t groggy during the day.
- Limit naps. We all love being able to doze off for a little while during the day, and it can feel like a good idea when we’re really tired. But napping too often or for too long makes it hard to fall asleep at night and even harder to wake up in the morning, so avoid naps late in the day and try not to nap for more than 30 minutes to encourage better sleep at night.
Sleep tight everyone!