From Counting Sheep to Counting Sleep:
How to Get Good Sleep
In today's hyper-productive world, it's easy to chalk sleep up to a waste of time. But in reality, sleep is just as important for your physical and mental health as diet and exercise.
If you know you're not getting enough sleep, don't be too hard on yourself. One in three adults in America doesn't sleep as much as they should.
Both the amount and quality of your sleep are important. In order to get the most out of your time asleep, however, you first need to know how to get good sleep.
Listed below are a few of the best tips to follow to get the best sleep of your life!
Control Your Exposure to Light
The biggest trigger for sleep and wakefulness is exposure to light - and the type of light matters. During the day, try to get as much natural sunlight or bright light as you can. This will help you stay awake and alert, as well as improve your energy levels.
At night, keep your exposure to bright light to a minimum. And more importantly, stay far away from blue light.
Unfortunately, this means putting your phone and tablet away at least 2 hours before bed. But using this time to work on a puzzle or do some yoga instead is beneficial for both your sleep and your mental health!
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is great for daytime productivity and can even provide some health benefits, but caffeine is a stimulant. This means consuming it too late in the day can put a serious damper on your quality of sleep.
If at all possible, stop drinking caffeinated drinks at 3 or 4 pm at the latest. Caffeine stays in your system for 6-8 hours, making an evening coffee a bad idea for those trying to improve sleep.
Set a Routine
Your circadian rhythm is just that - a rhythm. An irregular sleep pattern can affect your body's release of melatonin, a hormone responsible for telling your brain its time for sleep.
To regulate this rhythm, it's vital that you go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends! You should also do your best to avoid long naps. If you need an afternoon nap, shoot for a 30-minute power nap.
Adjust Your Bedroom Environment
The first step in creating the ideal bedroom environment is to only use your bedroom for sleep. Don't hang out in your bed during the day and avoid working in your bedroom. The goal is to create an association between your bedroom and sleep in your mind.
Next, set the scene for sleep. Get rid of any excess noise and light with blackout curtains, and set your thermostat to a comfortable sleeping temperature.
Even a seemingly unobtrusive light such as that from a digital alarm clock can disrupt your sleep, so be mindful about what you keep in your bedroom.
Make Relaxation a Priority
We're creatures of habit, and by following a relaxation routine every night in preparation for bed, you'll be telling your body it's time to sleep. Instead of going full speed until the moment you plan to sleep, make relaxation a priority in the evenings.
Enjoy a hot bath or shower, listen to soothing music, or meditate. Whatever makes you feel most relaxed! If this is a totally new concept to you, take some time to try different methods and find out what works best for you.
Get More Exercise
One of the most effective means of improving sleep is to get adequate exercise. Now, you don't want to exercise right before bed, as the hormones released with physical activity reduce sleepiness.
That being said, exercising regularly can not only help you to fall asleep faster but improve the quality of your sleep as well. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day to optimize your health.
Avoid Food Before Bed
While you sleep, your body's sole focus should be the rejuvenation of your mind, muscles, and organs. By eating before bed, you're forcing your body to spend less energy on revitalization, as it has to digest what you've eaten.
To get your best sleep, eat your last meal or snack a few hours before going to bed. In addition, about an hour before sleep, you should stop drinking any liquids.
This, coupled with using the bathroom right before bed, will prevent you from waking up in the middle of the night to go.
Change Your Mattress
If you've tried everything else and still never feel rested in the morning, you may need a new mattress. An old mattress or one that doesn't offer proper support can cause you to lose sleep and even feel sore when you wake up.
Believe it or not, certain mattresses benefit certain sleeping positions. Read more here to learn about the best option if you're a side sleeper!
Use This Guide on How to Get Good Sleep to Improve Your Health
Poor sleep habits are linked to a variety of illnesses, from obesity to heart disease. And putting sleep on the back burner in an effort to increase productivity is actually counterproductive! Lack of sleep will negatively affect both your mood and your ability to focus.
The bottom line is, you can't have a truly healthy lifestyle if you ignore the importance of sleep. By putting some of the tips on how to get good sleep to use, you'll soon find that a good night's rest can make you feel like a whole new you!
Looking for more tips on improving your health? Be sure to check out our blog!