Though many of us suffer from occasional sleeping trouble, there are a few easy steps you can take to get a good night sleep and increase your daytime energy and alertness.
Routine: Schedule That Sleep
Busy personal and work lives often lead to inconsistent sleep schedules, and this can make it hard for your body to consistently settle down and make the most of the hours that you have to sleep. Reflect on your daily appointments, obligations and available sleeping times: when can you commit to sleeping each night, and for how long? Establishing consistent sleep and wake times will allow your body to establish healthy rhythms and you will find yourself more refreshed each day.
Mid-day lapses in energy are common and these can lead to extended napping, but before you indulge in an hour-long nap, keep in mind that excessive naps during the day can decrease your ability to get restful sleep at night. Limiting naps to 25 minutes or less is a solid way to fight fatigue while ensuring you will nonetheless be ready for sleep when the time comes. Be sure to nap early, too: though afternoon naps are fine, anything later in the evening can potentially interfere with your sleep.
Pre-Bed Time Eating and Drinking Habits
Seemingly harmless eating and drinking choices during the later parts of the day can have a serious impact on your overall quality of sleep: sugar, caffeine and alcohol are three common sources of sleep disruption. These substances have a diuretic effect; this means that they can cause increased urination and may create the need for unwanted bathroom breaks in the middle of the night. Plus, sugar and caffeine can keep even the most exhausted body mentally wired and resistant to sleep.
Between work lives, play and family obligations, there are never enough hours in the day. This can lead to increased stress and general aggravation, both of which can take a seriously toll on your mind and body and may manifest in lower sleep quality. For those who find themselves enduring sleepless nights due to stress, it is important to reflect on measures that you can take to reduce overall stress and protect those valuable hours you have to rest each night. Sleep can be one of your strongest defenses against stress, but this will only work if you establish habits which minimize stress levels enough that you can then enjoy reparative, stress-relieving sleep.
Create a Pre-Sleep Ritual to Calm Your Mind
Whether or not stress tends to affect your sleep, establishing healthy pre-sleep rituals is a great way to improve your overall sleep quality and create sustainable sleeping habits. Violent films, news programs and internet browsing each produce excessive mental activity that can lead to trouble sleep. Avoid these and other media stimulants and elect for something more mellow: reading a book or listening to soothing music works well for a lot of us. It’s also a good idea to actively work toward relaxation: focus on your body. Are certain muscles tight or stressed? If so, try and relax those areas of your body and focus on your breathing. Paying attention to calm, regular respiration will prepare you for sleep, in both mind and body. This will also help keep your mind off of any stresses that may be waiting for you in the day ahead.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Several aspects of your home environment can affect your ability to get the most out of your night’s sleep. Take measures to ensure that you have a dark, comfortable environment for that valuable shuteye: close blinds completely (particularly if there are bright street lights outside of your bedroom), turn off unneeded lights and make sure your bedding is arranged comfortably before you attempt to go to sleep. If possible, regulate the temperature in your sleeping area.