Sleep matters! Plain and simple. The less we get the worse we feel in the morning. There are people who can function on 4-5 hours and make it through the day. I am not one of those people. A restless night or just a lack of it and I’m a total mess the next day.
What are the benefits to a good nights rest
The average person spends more than 20 years of their life sleeping. That is a lot of time in bed if you think about it. Studies continually tell us about the benefits of a good night’s rest. Overall you wake up more alert, with energy and generally happier. We function better when we are well rested, able to take on the day. But did you know that sleep plays a critical role in the following:
- immune function
- providing an opportunity for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself.
How do we ensure that we are getting the rest that we need each night?
Healthy Sleep Tips
Stick to a schedule
Make sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time each and every day (including weekends). This schedule helps to regulate your body’s clock and as a result, could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
Practice a bedtime ritual
A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights (TV or electronic devices) helps separate your bed time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety. These outside factors like stress can make it more difficult to fall asleep. You need to find a way to turn off your brain before bed. Yoga, stretching or just reading a book help many people.
Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating short catnaps may help. As essential as a power nap is it can end up being detrimental at night.
Each and every day you should be exercising (for many reasons outside of this article). Strenuous and vigorous exercise is best but even light exercise is better than no activity. This is even more important for children. Exercise at whatever time of day you need to, but not at the expense of your sleep. Don’t get up at 3:00 am just to workout if it jeopardizes being well rested.
Evaluate your room
My perfect environment for maximum rest is dark and cool, think a cave in the middle of nowhere. Design your bedtime environment to establish the perfect conditions. Experts suggest cool temperatures–between 60 and 67 degrees with little to no noise that can disturb your rest. Eliminate any source of light. You should see me in a hotel room propping chairs against the curtains to keep them closed tight! I’ll sometimes even put a towel under the door and a tissue in the peep hole to block out all sources of light. O know how crazy that sounds but it works.
Check your room for other noises or distractions. This includes a bed partner’s snoring or other bodily sounds. In my wife and I’s case it’s our dogs that do most of the snoring and noise making all night. Blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans, and other devices that can help as well.
There are a few good apps on the marketplace as well that can work as a sound machine. I use the Sleep Machine app both at home and when I travel. Alexa also has some built in sound machines you can try as well.
Treat yourself to a comfortable mattress and pillows
A mattress is something you should never look to scrimp on. A comfortable and supportive mattress makes all the difference in the world for a good nights rest. The average mattress lasts about 9-10 years so if your current mattress is older it may be time for an upgrade. Along with a good mattress make sure you have quality pillows that support your head and neck. Waking up with a sore back and neck are no fun!
No “blue light” before bed
Blue light refers to the glow from electronic devices such as tablets, mobile phones or televisions. This blue light has been shown to “trick” the brain into being awake and cause havoc on your internal body clock. Tuck the electronic devices away and limit exposure to television to a minimum before bed. Read a book instead (but not on a Kindle).
Avoid alcohol before bed
I know this goes against common logic because we’ve all seen a person passed out from drinking. The difference is they are passed out and it’s not the same thing as true sleep. Alcohol interferes with natural sleep patterns and can cause quite the opposite effect. Plus who wants to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom!
Figure out what time you need to wake up and plan on the right amount of rest. If you know that you need 9 hours of sleep to feel rested then go to bed accordingly. Don’t go to bed at 1:00 AM if you need to be up at 6:00. Try to be asleep by 10:00 so you maximize your sleep period.
Sleep matters and being well rested makes all the difference in helping be productive the following day. Take it seriously and you will see the difference.
For more sleep tips visit the National Sleep Foundation.
What are your tried and true methods for getting a good nights sleep? Let me know in the comments below.