Last week we discussed the nature of sleep and why it’s so important that you get enough of it.
If you’ve had trouble falling asleep for years, the information may have made you feel more frustrated than inspired. Fear not! Today we’ll take a look at a wide range of tips for slumbering soundly, night after night.
If you’ve been getting okay sleep, my goal is that you’ll find a tip that can help you make it much better.
Before we begin, the important thing to understand is that getting a good night’s sleep is an all-day affair. How you wake up, Philips Hf3321 goLITE BLU Check Amazon for Pricing. what you do during the day, and your nightly routine can all affect the quality and quantity of your sleep. Below are some research-backed tips that you can employ from dawn to dusk to prepare your body and mind for sleep. Make sure to experiment; what works for someone else might not work for you. You might consider investing in a sleep tracker or downloading a sleep-tracking app so you can measure the effects of your sleep experimentation.
Preparing For Good Sleep
1. Invest in a good mattress. Remember, you’ll spend an average of 24 years – 24 years! – of your life sleeping. So there’s no investment that yields a better ROI than a mattress that helps you slumber soundly (and that’s not always the most expensive one, either). Pick the mattress that’s right for you. If the manufacturer lets you test it out for a trial period, all the better.
While you’re at it, change your sheets once a week. Nothing feels better than getting into a bed with nice, clean linen.
2. Find your ideal sleeping schedule by going camping for a week. If you want to find the ideal amount of sleep your unique body craves, as well as its ideal wake time, go camping for a week. Researchers at the University of Colorado found that participants who roughed it in the great outdoors shifted their sleeping schedule to one that lined up more with the earth’s natural solar day and night. In the absence of artificial light, they returned to their primeval pattern. On average, the participants went to bed earlier, woke up earlier, and slept longer. Even self-proclaimed night owls shifted to a sleep/wake cycle that lined up with the natural solar day and night and started going to sleep well before their “normal” bedtime back home. (This suggests that their night owl-ness may be driven more by preference and habit than their biological makeup.)
NOW Supplements, Melat... Best Price: null Buy New $10.69 ($0.06 / Count) (as of 12:20 EST - Details) Even if your “real life” schedule can’t accommodate the natural sleeping schedule you uncover while slumbering in the wild, it can provide you ideals to shoot for. And the experiment should at least give you an idea of how much sleep your body needs to feel fully rested. Shoot for that number, whatever your schedule may be.
And if you’re suffering massive sleep debt, a week of camping away from artificial light and the stresses of modern life is a great way to catch up on some much-needed Zs.
When You Wake Up and During the Day
3. Stick to a consistent schedule. Our bodies are evolved to sleep at a regular schedule. Ideally, that schedule would align with the earth’s natural day and night cycle. In our modern 24/7 society, that sort of schedule is not possible for most of us. But we can do our best to be consistent with the sleep schedule that we do have. Experiment, find the schedule that works for you, and then stick to it like clockwork — that means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day – even on weekends!
4. Wake up at the same time every morning. If for any reason you have to go to bed later than usual, try to still wake up at the same time. This is particularly important if you’re trying to establish a new, healthier sleep schedule. The time of your waking seems to set the schedule of when you’ll start feeling sleepy later in the day. Thus, if you go to bed late, and then wake up late, it’ll start a cycle that messes up your whole rhythm. If you instead get up early even after going to bed late, you’re more likely to feel tired at the desired time.
5. Never hit the snooze button. In hitting the snooze button you may think you’re giving your body and mind the bit of extra sleep that it needs, but you’re actually just setting yourself up to feel groggier than you would have if you’d just gotten right out of bed. You see, when you hit snooze and drift back to sleep, rather than returning to the lighter sleep stage you were just in (in which your body may have already been preparing to wake up), you may begin a new sleep cycle altogether. Then, when the alarm goes off the second time, it’ll likely catch you in a deeper stage of sleep, leaving you feeling groggy, ill-rested, and looking for a mallet to smash your alarm clock. To help rid yourself of this habit, try placing your alarm (be it a phone or a clock) in a place where you’ll have to physically get out of bed to turn it off.
6. Expose yourself to bright light as soon as you get up. Bright light, particularly blue light, sends a signal to our brain to stop releasing melatonin and to start raising cortisol levels to help wake us up. Research suggests that morning exposure to bright light not only helps wake you up, but can also help you get to sleep later that night. Early morning light may even help regulate your metabolism; one study showed a correlation between exposure to light in the morning and a healthy BMI. The author of that study, Dr. Phyllis C. Zee, explains: “Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulates energy balance. The message is that you should get more bright light between 8 a.m. and noon.”
If you wake up after the sun rises, take a 20-minute walk in the morning to let your eyes bask in its dawning rays. But exposure to bright light is particularly helpful if you rise when it’s still dark. In such a case, you’ll have to bring in an artificial source of light. One thing that I’ve had a lot of success with is Philips goLITE BLU. I turn it on and sit in front of it for 20 minutes while I’m doing my morning routine.
Best Home Fashion Basi... Best Price: null Buy New $30.99 (as of 11:10 EST - Details) While the blue light emitted from your electronic devices isn’t as strong, taking a look at your laptop as soon as you get out of bed can help wake you up too; however, checking your email first thing in the morning can also induce crankiness and doesn’t get your morning off to the right, focused start.
7. Exercise every day. Dimes to donuts your hard-toiling great-grandpa didn’t have any trouble getting to sleep at night. Manual labor is truly the best sleeping aid of all.
In our techno-industrial economy where most of us sit at a desk all day, the next best thing to pushing a plow is doing a daily bout of exercise. The research suggests that regular exercisers sleep better than those who don’t. If possible, you may consider exercising in the morning to help wake you up. If nighttime exercise is the only thing you can do, that’s fine as well. Just not too close to bedtime.
8. Try intermittent fasting. Research suggests that intermittent fasting can help you get better sleep at night. A simple way to implement intermittent fasting is to begin your fast at 7 or 8PM and then skip breakfast the next morning and don’t eat until lunch. From 12PM until 7PM you can eat. If you want to incorporate a bedtime snack into your routine (see below), you’ll need to use a different schedule, shifting your feeding window until later in the day.
9. Avoid caffeine late in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep you awake if you take it too late in the day. Keep in mind that the half-life (how long it lingers in your body) of caffeine is three to five hours, meaning that that cup of Joe you drank at 4PM could still be having a stimulating effect on you at 9PM. If you’re having trouble sleeping, consider cutting the caffeine at around mid-day or early afternoon.