Sleep is almost absurdly important. Ask a doctor what single thing you can do to improve your health and well-being and sleep will be right up there with exercise in their grab-bag of recommendations. For that reason, it is in your interest to do everything you can to get a better night’s sleep. Proper rest will improve your mental functioning, your immune system, your energy levels, and your mood so use these 7 tips to make the most of your time between the sheets.
1. Keep to a Schedule
One of the most important things you can do to improve your sleep is stick to a strict schedule. Even on days when you don’t have you get up early, get up early. Your body is a machine and the more consistent you are in your use of it, the better it will function. Constantly changing your sleep schedule adds unnecessary stress to your body chemistry and will keep you up.
2. Get Outside Each Morning
Part of reinforcing your sleep schedule is taking advantage of daily cues from your environment. Each morning, get outside into the fresh air and sunlight as soon as possible. This will wake you up and get you ready for the day, but your body will also tell you it’s time for bed 14 to 16 hours later.
3. Exercise Intensely
Vigorous exercise uses up your energy reserves and helps regulate your body’s production of hormones. That includes hormones like melatonin, which is what your body uses to tell you to sleep. Try to make exercise a daily part of your life and you will see a big difference in how easily you fall asleep.
4. Create a Bedtime Routine
Work with your body to reinforce your sleep schedule. Just as your internal clock and hormones will let you know when it’s time for bed you can keep the bedtime process going by doing the same things each night before turning in. Brush your teeth, get a glass of water, change out of your clothes. Whatever it is, keep it consistent to let your body know it is almost time to switch off.
5. Plan Your Naps
Naps are risky business when planning a sleep schedule. The experts seem to agree that you are best off avoiding them if you can, but if you really need to catch a few Z’s during the day limit yourself to between 10 and 30 minutes and nap in the midafternoon.
6. Switch Off the Screens
Just as light will wake you up in the morning, it will keep you awake at night. In an age when most of our leisure time is spent in front of screens that shoot beams of light directly into our faces that can be a problem. Part of your bedtime routine should include at least 40 minutes of no-screen time immediately before trying to sleep. Read a book, do a puzzle, or play a board game. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you resist the pull of your iPad.
7. Cool Off
One of the best ways to promote sleep is to keep your bedroom cool. Your are an animal and your body responds to animal inputs. When we slept outside each night our bodies learned that to associate cooler temperatures with sleep. The upshot is that the simplest trick to fall asleep is to cool your bedroom to a proper nighttime temperature of between 65 and 70 degrees F (18 to 21 C).
Make use of these tips and you will be off to dreamland in no time. Sweet dreams!