Not getting enough sleep at night doesn’t just make you feel terrible the next day, but it also has significant impacts on your physical and mental health. A lack of sleep can inhibit the functioning of your immune system, making it easy to catch colds, and it can also increase your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. Oh, and not sleeping through the night has been linked to premature aging, hormone imbalances, and weight gain. Scary, right?
You might be reading this thinking, “A full night’s sleep? What’s that?!” So many of us have insanely busy schedules, and we’ve just become used to the ‘grogginess.’ Demanding jobs, energetic kids to take care of, and just day-to-day “stuff” to deal with all put our brains and bodies into overdrive. So, it’s not uncommon to feel wired and awake come bedtime. Turning your brain off can feel impossible (thinking about what to make for dinner tomorrow, what deadlines are due at work, who’s going to pick up Mia from dance class? You get the picture) but, thankfully, there are some things you can do to help send your mind and body into ‘chill-out mode.’ The best part? They’re so simple yet they can make a huge difference in your sleep patterns over time.
If you can’t remember the last time you slept through the night – keep reading. These little hacks could be a game-changer for you.
Your Daytime Routine Can Influence Your Sleep Pattern
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than ⅓ of American adults are getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night. That’s not good. An ideal amount of sleep for the average adult is somewhere around the 7- to 8-hour mark.
If this sounds like a lofty goal to achieve, there are some things you can do during the daytime to help.
- Minimize Your Caffeine Consumption. Instead of that entire pot of coffee, maybe take it down to two cups, then wean it down to one. Baby steps! And try your best not to consume any caffeine at all after your morning cup.
- Get Enough Light: Do your best to be in bright, natural light in the morning. This will help set your circadian rhythm aka your sleep/wake cycle or body clock. Light tells your brain to wake up! If you can get around 30 minutes of natural light early in the day, that’s even better.
- Get Your Sweat on. Regular exercise during the day has been shown to improve sleep, but you’ll have to time it right – avoid working out within two to four hours of going to bed as this can give you an energy boost as you’re winding down your day.
- And, if you don’t think you have enough time to squeeze in a daily workout, FitOn has you covered. FitOn offers virtual fitness classes taught by world-class celebrity trainers that you can do anywhere and anytime. Plus, some workouts only require 20 minutes of your time to get the blood flowing and your heart pumping, so a lack of time doesn’t have to be your excuse for not getting a workout in. Because let’s face it, if you have time to scroll through Insta for an hour, you have time to fit in a 20 minute HIIT workout, right?
- Take a (quick) Nap if You’re Tired. If you’re feeling a bit sleepy during the day, go ahead and take a quick snooze. Just be sure to limit your nap time to just 20-30 minutes; otherwise, you might mess up your actual bedtime. And speaking of bedtimes…
- Set a Schedule. To help create a regular and consistent sleep pattern, try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every night. This will “train” your brain and body for a set routine over time.
Changes to Incorporate Into Your Evening and Nightly Routine
Try your absolute best to start ‘powering down’ for the evening a few hours before you plan on going to bed. Getting your brain and body into recovery mode is as easy as making a few tiny adjustments to your normal schedule and routine.
- Avoid That Nightcap. You might think that glass of wine before bed or that after-dinner cocktail might help you sleep, but you’re just fooling yourself. A little bit of booze might help you doze off initially, but those effects will wear off, and soon you’ll be awake and dehydrated.
- Turn off Bright Lights in Your Home. Avoid using artificial lights in your home (as much as possible) after the sun goes down. Try and use softer or dimmed lights or go old-school and light some candles.
- Sign-off and Disconnect. Nearly every single participant in a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation said they use a smartphone, tablet, TV, or some sort of electronic device before bed. It turns out that the light emitted from these devices is super stimulating for our brains which makes it very hard to go to sleep afterward. Make it a point to turn everything off, and stow electronics away within an hour before bed. This is a perfect time to read or practice meditation.
- Go Total Blackout. As mentioned earlier, light tells the brain and body to ‘get moving,’ so any lights in your bedroom, while you’re trying to sleep, can send mixed signals. Make your room as dark as possible with blinds or blackout curtains to ensure optimal production of melatonin (the hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles).
- Climate Control. Temperature plays a huge role when it comes to our comfort while sleeping. The optimal temp on our thermostat should be somewhere between 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit (lower for women going through menopause), and it’s best to sleep in comfortable and breathable cotton clothing.
The Bottom Line
With proper rest and recovery, our minds and bodies can function at their most optimal level. By incorporating just a few small changes in your lifestyle, a great night’s sleep can become your ‘new normal.’ And remember–eat right, don’t smoke, and make self-care a priority.