Even though we know better, sleep is often the very first thing to go when we’re pressed for time. Studies show that skimping on sleep is not in your best interest. Sleep deprivation impairs reflexes, coordination, concentration, memory, and productivity. Chronic sleep deprivation contributes to depression and suppresses the immune system. Experts say that the hormones released during deep sleep are vital for repairing the wear and tear of daily living.
Here are some sleep tips that have been culled from various sleep experts. Incorporate some or all of them to improve the quality of your sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine. These stimulants linger in the system long after they have been ingested. Moderate your alcohol consumption to avoid an unwanted alcohol-induced “wake-up call” later in the sleep cycle.
- Become habitual about bed time and wake-up time. If you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, you can retrain your body to know when to feel sleepy and when to become alert.
- Studies show that people who exercise generally fall asleep faster and their quality of sleep is deeper than those who don’t exercise.
- Incorporate pre-sleep rituals into your evening. A hot bath, herbal tea, relaxing music, or a quiet read will signal your brain to go into a sleepy mode.
- Use your bed for sleep and sex only. You can program your mind to enter sleep more easily if your bed is a calm sanctuary.
- Get some light on the subject! Upon awakening, make it a habit to spend a little time near some natural light. The light absorbed through your eyes resets your internal clock to wake-up mode.
- Take a nap. Keep it under 30 minutes for the best results. Anything longer will send you deeper into sleep mode and you’ll emerge in a groggy state.
- Manage your worry time. If you’ve got anxiety-causing things on your mind, take some time earlier in the evening to deal with your feelings. Make a list of all the things you’re worried about. Where possible, make a plan to cope with them. If you can’t find a resolution, try looking for a silver lining to the problem. This will help turn off the worried-thought cycle that can otherwise replay over and over in the night.
- If you still find yourself awake in the middle of the night, try to stay calm and peaceful. The more we struggle with sleep, the more it eludes us.