We’ve posted blog posts before about how our culture of busy is worn like a badge of honor. Hand in hand with that sentiment is lack of sleep. Whether it’s staying up late, getting up early, or just not sleeping well, being tired is practically endemic. There are a few clear culprits stopping us from getting eight hours of shut-eye every night--blue light from cell phones, TVs, and other electronics is probably the most common--but there are other lifestyle factors, too.
For tips on how to get a good night’s rest, check out our favorites from WebMD. Old habits die hard, but your brain and body will thank you.
1. Put down devices at least one hour prior to going to bed. The blue light emitted from cell phone screens, tablets, and TVs activates sensors in our head that tell us to wake up or stay up instead of letting us get sleepy. Some studies show that it also inhibits melatonin production, the stuff that puts us to sleep. If it’s just too hard to not have your phone bedside, at least look up downloading a blue light filter app for your phone, or use your phone’s bedtime feature.
2. Limit the siestas. Daytime napping can be exactly what the body needs mid-afternoon...as long as you keep it under 30 minutes. Anything longer can activate the body’s deeper sleep cycle, which makes you wake up disoriented. Not to mention that you’ll be less tired at night time, and less likely to sleep.
3. Pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking throughout the day. Caffeine later in the afternoon might keep you up later than desired; alcohol could make you sleepy at first, but wake you up after a few hours as your blood sugar levels change. Food, especially those late-night snacks, can also affect your ability to sleep well.
4. Create a space of total relaxation. When you lay in bed, do a body scan, starting from the tips of your toes, all the way up to your head. Is there pain in any area? Does your low back need more support? Is your neck kinked in a weird way? Make necessary modifications so that every night in your bed is made for your body. Pay attention to any necessary window treatments as well. It’s nice to have a space that’s dark and cool. Again, total relaxation is the goal.
5. Along with number 4, assess your bedding and mattress situation. Look at sealing your mattress against allergens (even if you don’t have allergies, these can still irritate your body). Invest in sheets that are soft and silky or warm and fuzzy, whatever your chosen style might be. Find bedding that keeps you comfortable, not too hot and not too cold. All of these things can help you sleep better as a whole.
6. Start sticking to a sleep schedule. It’s essentially what this whole list is leading up to, right? A few hours before bed, try to stop eating and slow down drinking. In the last hour leading up to bed, power down your computer or tablet, and let your phone charge (in a room other than your bedroom). Turn down your bed, making sure you have enough blankets or removing some blankets based on the temperature. Do any final preparations for tomorrow--making lunch, laying out an outfit, etc--and your other bedtime routines like brushing teeth. Make it a routine and get to bed at the same time every night.
Bedtime means bed, so develop a routine that’s designed to help you sleep. Answering work emails and scrolling through Instagram does not help you sleep. Snacking on chips or drinking a latte before bed does not help you sleep. Overall, sleeping better leads to a ton of good things, like more energy, higher alertness levels, sometimes even higher metabolism. So, take time to figure out what helps you sleep better, and do it!