Many of us are guilty of considering sleep as simply a part of our nightly routine, underestimating its importance to our quality of life and well-being. A good night’s sleep is essential in maintaining both mental and physical health and productivity. The recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours each night; however, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 30 percent of working adults in the U.S. are sleeping six or fewer hours a night. This year, let’s make our mental and physical health a priority by practicing these tips to get a better night’s sleep:.
• Develop a sleep schedule and stick to it, even on the weekends. Going to bed every night and waking up every morning at the same time helps to regulate your body’s clock. Set an alarm to help you stick to your schedule. Developing this routine will help you fall asleep and remain asleep for the entire night.
• Allow yourself time to exercise daily. Setting aside time each day to exercise will help you feel more tired when bedtime draws near. An intense workout is ideal for encouraging a good night’s sleep; however, light exercise is better than no exercise at all. Try exercising with a friend or creating a workout playlist to make exercise more enjoyable.
• Relax before bedtime. Give yourself time before going to sleep to wind down and relax. Pause your Netflix binge and put your smart phone on the charger for the night, giving your eyes a break from the bright lights of your electronics, which signal your brain to stay awake. Try reading one of your favorite books in bed to help your mind unwind or practice meditation before tucking in for the night.
• Stay out of the fridge. Try eating dinner at least three hours prior to bedtime, so you allow your stomach time to digest. Eating a meal too close to bedtime can keep you awake due to heartburn, gas or extra energy. With that being said, you should never go to bed hungry. If you find your stomach rumbling before bedtime, eat a simple healthy snack such as a banana, oatmeal or a piece of toast. You also should avoid any caffeinated beverages in the evening, as these often cause you to toss or turn come bedtime.
• Avoid napping throughout the day. If you constantly find yourself wide-eyed and restless at night, you should eliminate naps from your daily schedule, especially those late afternoon snoozes. Even the shortest of power naps can throw off your entire sleep schedule and will cause you to lay awake for hours on end.
Following these simple tips should help prevent you from counting sheep hours past your bedtime. If you still find yourself having trouble sleeping, you should speak with your doctor or healthcare provider for more options.