Sleep isn’t for the weak, no matter how some busy (or just pretending to be busy) people put it. It is also not about being sluggish or taking things too lightly. The human body needs to slow down and get a restful sleep in order to function properly.
Insufficient and poor quality of sleep is a public health concern. A new Consumer Report found that 27% of American adults have trouble sleeping most nights, while 68% or 164 million struggle with sleep at least once a week. Reasons for this range from lack of a comfortable pillow to work-related stress and not having a deep sense of calm.
A sleep-deprived body is very vulnerable to a whole host of chronic health problems. Sleepless nights can affect a person’s emotional and mental states. This is why it is imperative for everyone to develop healthy sleeping habits to improve productivity, achieve emotional balance, be mentally sharp, and feel energized and refreshed all day long.
Here is a guide to healthy sleeping to help you get more of those quality zzzzz’s.
Stick to the Same Sleeping Schedule Every Day
Our bodies’ need to be in sync with our natural circadian rhythm or what we normally call body clock. This can be done by keeping a regular sleep-wake schedule even on weekends. By setting your body’s internal clock, you also improve the quality of your sleep. Choose a bed time that you can stick to and make sure to wake up at the same time every day.
Avoid Sleeping in, Avoid the Snooze
That snooze button is not your friend. It will only make you feel jet lag symptoms throughout the day. If you feel like you need to make up for staying up late one night or need to pay off some sort of sleep debt, it is better to take a daytime nap than sleep in. Sleeping in for extra minutes will only disturb your natural sleep-wake rhythm.
Be Smart About Napping
Quick naps are generally good but you have to be smart about it. Among the healthy sleeping tips you must take note of is to not take naps very close to bedtime. Take 15- to 20-minute naps early in the afternoon and fight off drowsiness and sleepiness during late afternoons or after dinners. If you feel sleepy hours before your scheduled bed time, try to do mild chores such as getting your clothes ready for the next day. If you give in and take a late nap, you might wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble going back to sleep.
Be Mindful of Exposure to the Light
Our bodies naturally respond to light and darkness. When it is dark, our bodies secrete more melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. During daytime, there is less secretion, making us feel alert.
Think about this in controlling your exposure to light. It is best to expose yourself in bright sunlight early in the morning and let as much natural light in your home or office during daytime. This is to establish changes when nighttime comes. Avoid bright screens before bedtime and establish some sort of “electronic curfew.” The blue light from phones and gadgets keep your body alert. Make the room as dark as possible and say no to late-night television.
Don’t Compromise Bed Quality
Choose the best mattress for healthy sleeping and never compromise quality. Advancements in sleep technology have paved the way for engineering and designing quality foam mattresses that cater to different specifications. Modern mattresses adjust to the shape of our bodies, promote a cooler temperature, have antibacterial benefits, and are generally more comfortable. Make yourself as comfortable as possible and surround yourself with bed accessories that make you feel more secure and calm.
Don’t Toss and Turn
Do you often lie in bed thinking “why can’t I sleep?” Do you pressure yourself and think “I must sleep now”? Instead of tossing and turning, get out of bed and try a relaxing activity such as reading a book or listening to soft music. Thinking about your difficulty to sleep will only make you more anxious. Also, face the alarm clock away. Watching the time tick by will only stress you out.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
If your friends or coworkers invite you to have coffee after work, go for non-caffeine drinks or just be content with sharing stories. Caffeine can cause sleep problems up to 12 hours after drinking it. Caffeine is not only present in coffee but also in sodas and chocolate.
And while alcohol can put you to sleep faster, it can result in a disruptive sleep. Alcohol interferes with your sleep cycle, waking you up in the middle of the night.
Work Out Early
A lot of office workers tend to hit the gym after work hours. But while workouts is among the steps to better sleep, make sure that you end workouts at least two hours before sleeping. This is to refrain the adrenaline boost from keeping you up. It is advised to exercise early in the day, but if you tend to exercise at night, keep the routines simple.
Relax and Clear your Head
Rent is due, your boss is horrible, and your toddler is stressing you out. Sure, we all have these concerns that keep us wide awake at night. Don’t let anxiety and chronic worrying keep you up and find ways to break that stressful mental habit. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualizing a peaceful and restful place. You may also do some muscle relaxation tricks to lose tension in your body.
Vent Out in a Journal
Thinking about a lot of things release stress hormones, which in turn lead to alertness. Let those thoughts go by writing them down in a journal. There have been studies that show the benefits of journaling in reducing stress and clarifying your emotions. Write in whichever form you like—as a letter to someone or just free flowing writing—without stopping for spelling or grammar. Don’t just write about events; write about your emotions and feelings.
Never underestimate the importance of enough restful sleep. The signs of sleep deprivation go beyond nodding off while driving. It could affect your general well-being, your alertness, productivity, and performance. Make healthy sleeping a habit and wake up to better mornings.