A lack of sleep causes countless problems, both physical and mental. If you find yourself tossing and turning all night and fighting to stay awake the next day, something is preventing your body from restoring itself as it should. Take these easy steps to allow your body to rest completely.
1. Cut Off Your Caffeine
Everyone knows that caffeine keeps you awake. However, many people are unaware that the sleep-disrupting effects can last up to eight hours after the caffeine is consumed. Some even claim that caffeine lasts 12 hours, so try to cut yourself off from coffee, tea, or energy drinks before lunchtime to make sure that it isn’t caffeine keeping you awake at night.
Burning some calories during the day ensures that you’ll actually be tired when it’s time to go to bed, with the added benefit of giving you an energy boost through the rest of the day. Just be sure not to exercise too close to your bedtime; studies have shown that the increased hormonal activity can interfere with sleep patterns. Leave at least 4 hours between your workout and bedtime.
3. Keep a Strict Schedule
Staying up late and sleeping in can throw your sleep schedule off balance. Avoid deviating from your usual bedtime by more than an hour or so for your body clock may adjust itself, making it difficult to fall asleep at your usual time the next night. A little bit of sleeping in is fine, but don’t stay in bed for more than nine hours.
4. Avoid Alcohol
The perception that a “nightcap” will help you sleep is not supported by evidence. While alcohol may make it easier to fall asleep, the quality of your sleep will undoubtedly suffer. In fact, going to bed with alcohol in your system can prevent you from reaching REM sleep, which is the phase during which the most restoration occurs. Skip the evening glass of beer and have a cup of milk or chamomile tea instead.
5. Wind Down Before Bed
Being wound up before bedtime could be the reason that you spend half the night staring at the ceiling. Try to get all of your important tasks done right after you get home so that you’re not rushing to get them done in the late evening. Make it your goal to spend at least one hour before bed enjoying a calm, relaxing activity like reading a book or knitting. Avoid the TV and other stimulants that may keep you awake.
6. Don’t Hang Out In the Bedroom
Many people, especially teenagers, spend time in the bedroom watching TV, socializing, or talking on the phone. The bedroom should be reserved for sleeping, not leisure activities. It’s important to form a psychological connection between being in the bedroom and sleeping. This way, when you lay down in bed, your brain will know that it’s time to shut down and get some rest. Try to stay out of your bedroom unless you’re ready to call it a night.
7. Soak Up Some Sun
Exposure to sunlight stimulates the production of melatonin, a hormone that controls the day-night cycle of the human body. Catching some rays will, therefore, help keep your sleep cycle in rhythm. Whether you’re at home or at work, open the blinds to let the sun in. You can also take a short walk every day to get the sunlight you need.
Once you are able to get a proper night’s rest, you’ll find yourself feeling healthier and happier. You can achieve this by putting these tips to use. A smart sleep strategy will free you of the fatigue and frustration that come with inadequate rest.