While we may not often think about it, a third of our life is spent asleep. We should pay attention to the quality of that sleep the same way we pay attention to the quality of our life while awake. The good news is that sleep continues to be a highly studied field so we have lots of information to help us sleep better. We wanted to share the best of that information with you!
Watch Your Food and Drink Intake
While there’s nothing like a late night fast food run as a guilty pleasure, it’s not a great strategy for sound sleep. You generally want to avoid a large meal within two hours of your bedtime. Other things to avoid include:
- Caffeine (try to avoid intake within six hours of bedtime)
- Nicotine (like caffeine, it’s a stimulant)
- Alcohol (while it can make you sleepy, alcohol can disrupt your sleep, thereby lessening your sleep quality)
Turn Your Bedroom Into a Sleep Chamber
You really want to dedicate your bedroom to restfulness. You want the room to be quiet, so avoid having a TV in there if possible. You want the room to be able to be made very dark via shades or curtains. You also want the temperature to be cooler, so make sure the room is well-ventilated.
Get Bright Light During the Day
Just as darkness can assist with better sleep quality during the day, studies have shown that insomniacs sleep better and longer when exposed to bright light during the day. Your body is a machine and uses signals and inputs from the environment it exists in and the earlier in the day that you get exposure to bright light, the faster signals are sent that it’s time for your body to be about your daily business. If you’re in the habit of closing shades before you go to sleep, have a corresponding habit of opening them as soon as you wake up.
Keep a Regular Bedtime
Speaking of habits, it’s good to wake up at the same time every day (or at least fairly close…we love weekend sleep-ins too!). Your body loves regularity and routine (like any well-tuned machine does).
Get Enough Sleep
Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep. You’ll have noticed that your body has self-correcting features to deal with us when we deprive it of sleep. You’ll become sleepy earlier as your body battles to cash in that sleep debt. Keep in mind that your hours of sleep are not the same as when you go to bed and when you get up. Sometimes there can be restless sleep and sometimes you can take a little while to fall asleep (though, if you aren’t falling asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something else until you are tired enough to fall asleep). Make sure to give yourself enough time to get the sleep you need. Stop that scrolling and close your eyes!
Avoid Blue Light
Speaking of scrolling, that’s something we should avoid as well. Remember what we said earlier about bright light earlier in the day? Blue light tells your body that it’s daytime, so it disrupts a routine you may have for winding down your day. If your schedule is such that you have to be on your phone closer to bedtime, consider turning on “night mode” on your phone or getting some glasses that are just for blocking blue light.
Have a Pre-sleep Routine
There are many techniques you can use to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and get ready for bed. Popular ones include:
- A warm shower or bath
- Reading a book
- A beverage like tea, which can be infused with ingredients like gingko biloba, valerian root, or lavender
By taking these relaxing actions you are priming your body for bedtime.
Have the Proper Equipment
This may sound obvious, but have a good mattress and pillow. As we said at the beginning, you’re going to spend a third of your life sleeping: it might as well be on something comfortable. This can obviously be an expensive proposition, but a quality mattress and pillow should be durable and last for years.
One of the best ways to be productive during the day is to ensure great sleep quality at night. You don’t have to implement all these ideas, but even just one or two of them could make a big difference.
This article originally appeared in our Guest Book newsletter.