You don’t need a doctor’s degree to understand that sleep is vital to your health. It keeps you energized after a long day’s work, and it serves as an escape from all the stress you’ve experienced during your day. It’s recharging your body to prepare for tomorrow.
The hours you spend sleeping also affects your mental and physical health. The less you sleep, the less focused and more irritable you are.
However, there are more pressing health risks due to lack of sleep which include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Even though you know the dangers of not getting enough z’s it seems almost impossible to get 8 hours with your hectic schedule. And even when you have time for 8 hours, you lay down and your mind won’t shut off.
If this sounds like you, you may want to consider these tips to help you get a good night’s sleep:
- Clear your mind in the evening
Thoughts like, “Am I prepared for my presentation tomorrow?”, “How much money will I need to save for a family vacation?” or “How will I get the kids to soccer practice tomorrow?” are probably just some reasons why you stay up late at night. You might be worrying and planning in the evening which makes your brain active instead of letting it rest. Yes, nights can be the best time to think things over but if you’re losing sleep, it’s not worth the risk. Once you decide to sleep, make sure that your mind is clear of anything else like work or family problems, set them aside for tomorrow. Try meditation or reading an enjoyable book to steer your mind clear of worry as you prepare for sleep.
- Treat yourself with a nice, pillow and/or mattress
Do you know why it’s always more comfortable to sleep at hotels rather at home? Because hotels give you the fluffiest pillows and the softest mattresses. If you think that this technique will help you in getting more shut-eye, visit your local or on-line store and shop for the perfect body pillow and/or mattresses. How “perfect” your pillow and mattress can be for sleep is subjective, so make sure you do your research and choose a product that is just right for you and your sleeping preference. You may consider your sleeping position; your sleeping partner; and your sleeping temperature as you shop for these products.
- Avoid using gadgets in the evening
You may be fond of using your gadget to stalk someone on Facebook at night, and you don’t notice that you lost three hours of your supposed sleeping time. Having your smartphone next to you encourages scrolling through social media which basically makes your brain more active. Your smartphone emits blue lights which makes your brain think that it’s time to wake up, when it’s actually time for sleep. So, it’s always a good idea to minimize your use of gadgets when you’re about to sleep. Better yet, keep your smartphone a few meters away from your bed to avoid temptation (and alarms set on your smartphone work well with this method too!).
- Stop exercising 4 hours before bedtime.
Exercise brings a lot of benefits to your body, including improved quality of sleep. You know this because this is the reason why you signed up for a gym membership in the first place. However, keep in mind that your exercise sessions need to end at least 4 hours before bedtime. Exercising keeps your body temperature elevated, making you feel all pumped up and energetic and this will inhibit your need for sleep.
- No caffeine after 2 PM
You might not know it, but tea and cola also have caffeine just like coffee. All of these beverages are stimulants which keep you awake. So if you go to sleep around 10 PM, cut down caffeine as early as 2 PM. If you’re sleepy during these hours, look for other ways to stay awake. You can try stretching exercises, just don’t reach for a cup of coffee. You won’t like having your eyes wide open in the middle of the night while everyone else is already snoring, right?
- Make your room smell good
There are certain smells proven to activate the alpha wave activity in your brain, causing you to relax and sleep more. You can try this cheap technique to sleep well tonight. When picking out scents, you can go for lavender or chamomile; they’re sure to do the trick for you. If you’re feeling artsy, you can try out DIY crafts of scented candles or oils also.
- Sleep separately from your pets.
No one can doubt your love for your pets. You’ve loved them and treated them like family, but during night time you may consider sleeping separately from them. Household pets such as cats and dogs often scratch, sniff and snore in the middle of the night and this has the potential to keep you awake or disturb your slumber. It might be difficult at first for you to sleep without your pets but it will be beneficial for your health in the long run.
Sleep undeniably contributes to your health. If you’ve been fond of sleeping for 4-5 hours daily it’s time to change your ways. You might not see or feel the consequences of these actions immediately, but they will catch up with you sooner than later. Therefore, if you want to achieve optimal health consider your sleep as a top priority.