Wouldn’t it be great if you could just sleep and get healthier? Well, you can. We all know we should eat better, get more active, de-stress, but often we forget that we need to SLEEP!
Well, how much sleep do people need? The average is 7-9 hours—less as you get older. There is a way to test yourself to see what your optimal sleep time is. To do this you’ll need a few days where you can sleep at home. First, sleep with no alarm clock for 2 nights. These nights are to catch up on bad sleep and fatigue. Next, to see how much sleep you really need, go to bed at a reasonable time (not late) and without using an alarm, note the time that you wake up and that duration will be the typical amount of sleep you need.
Try These Simple Steps to Better Sleep
Set up a time to go to sleep. The earlier the better. Remember tomorrow starts today (or tonight)!
Get up early. It will help tire you out so you can go to bed.
Don’t take naps. Remember what we all used to do when our little kids started to doze off in the afternoon? We’d wake them up! If they napped, they’d never go to sleep that night and thus keep us up! We need to treat ourselves the same way.
Get exercise. Do as much as you can. Tire yourself out. You’ll sleep deeper as well.
Sleep in a cool room. This sounds counter-intuitive, but the optimal temperature for good sleep is 65-68 F! They actually sell cooling mats and air blowers to cool you down while sleeping because of this fact. If you get a fan or air blower it should be a mutual decision between you and your spouse.
Off load your racing mind. David Allen, an efficiency expert recommends that you leverage whatever organizational system you have to jot down notes (pen and pad) or type notes into your device so that you don’t try and remember things that will not only keep you awake, but lead to other work related thoughts that will also keep you awake. De-stress, off load, let your system (manual or computerized) remember things for you.
Bright lights during the day, dark at night. Darkness helps produce melatonin. Even a night light will affect your sleep.
Avoid blue lights from electronic devices. These drop melatonin. The bed should only really be for sleep, not news, TV, or social media.
Avoid social media or the news before bedtime. Both are highly likely to make you mad and less able to calm down and sleep. A recent study on teens mood showed that social media hurt girls in 2 main ways—bullying and interruption of sleep! Social media did not have a big impact on young boys.
Don’t drink caffeinated drinks. Sure, coffee or energy drinks may give you a boost first thing in the morning, but they are all accompanied by a drop in energy a few hours later and can affect the quality of your sleep at night. If you must drink caffeine, make sure you don’t drink any caffeine after noon. It takes close to 12 hours for your body to metabolize and remove caffeine from your system. So that mid-afternoon iced tea will affect your ability to fall asleep at 11 pm. As well, even if you’re one of those people who can fall asleep fine even after drinking caffeine, studies have found that caffeine affects your ability to fall into the REM stage of sleep so even if you sleep through the night, you’re not getting quality sleep.
Good Sleep Equals Better Health
In the end, if you aren’t sleeping well, learn as much as you can about this topic and develop a strategy to get better sleep. The simple act of getting good sleep will help you eat better, get healthier and perform better mentally and emotionally throughout the day.