If you’ve ever suffered from lack of sleep, you know all too well how sleep deprivation can negatively impact your day. From impatience and lack of concentration at work to more dangerous consequences such as falling asleep while driving, there are plenty of reasons to be proactive about improving your sleeping habits. It takes more than counting sheep or just putting your head on the pillow – there are things you should do during the day to increase your chances of deeper, more restful slumber at night. Read on for 10 ways to get your eight hours of rest.
- Set a schedule and stick to it as best you can. Even on the weekends. Even on holidays. While this may sound dreadful, it is important for your body to have set sleep schedule – it leads to deeper and higher-quality rest, which is worth the extra effort.
- Don’t stare at the clock. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes of lying down, staring at the clock will only increase your anxiety. Get up and read a book or drink a glass of warm milk. Avoid turning on the TV, which will only make it harder for your body to drift off into a restful sleep.
- Create a ritual. Whether you wash your face at a certain time, stretch, or drink decaffeinated tea, rituals can signal to your mind that it’s time to wind down for the evening.
- Limit caffeine intake, particularly four to six hours before bedtime. Caffeine can stay in your system hours after consumption, so avoid that extra cup of coffee in the afternoons.
- Make your room work for you. Keep the room set at a cool temperature, select a comfortable pillow and mattress, kick out the kids and pets (their tossing and turning can keep you awake), and make sure it is as dark as possible.
- Power off your television, smartphone and computer. While it can be tempting to stay up until 1 a.m. watching Friends reruns, drifting off with the TV on almost guarantees a less restful sleep. One quick tip: set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to power off electronics an hour before bedtime.
- Get some exercise – but be selective about when you do. Most sleep experts recommend exercising earlier in the day, especially if you notice evening workouts keep you awake. Do what works best for your schedule, but if you notice that later workouts negatively affect your sleep patterns, consider waking up early to squeeze in treadmill time.
- De-stress. When your day leaves you feeling overworked and anxious, take time to relax and unwind. Call a friend, take a walk in the park, practice yoga, or find another activity you enjoy. Remaining in a heightened state of stress will only hinder your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
- Skip the 40 winks. Catching a nap during the day might not be so good for your overall energy levels and your ability to fall asleep at night. If you absolutely must nap, keep it short – no more than 15 to 20 minutes.
- Eat right. Going to bed too full or too hungry can keep you awake. Hunger is distracting and overeating may trigger indigestion and discomfort. If you are especially hungry before bed, try a light, sleep-promoting snack such as milk, almonds, or a banana. Another tip: Avoid using alcohol to fall asleep. While it may make you drowsy, it can lead to sleep disturbances during the night.
If these suggestions don’t help, talk with your physician – he or she may examine you for other conditions, such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
Have any of these tips worked well for you? Do you have any other ideas to share? Leave a comment below!