Subscribe to our Blog
In my last post, If You (Don’t) Snooze, You Lose, I wrote about how important it is to get good sleep and to get enough of it. This week I’m presenting tips to help facilitate that sleep. I’m no expert, and I struggle with sleep like most people do, but I’ve been experimenting with these suggestions and I think they’re helping. I hope they’ll help you, too.
1) First and foremost: make sleep a priority
Set a sleep schedule and stick to it—every day of the week. Decide on a bedtime based on the time you have to be awake for work or school; allow for at least eight hours of sleep. Keeping the same bedtime and wake time every day (yes, even on weekends!) is crucial to getting your internal clock to function properly.
2) Be active
Regular physical exercise improves sleep. If you aren’t already in the habit of working out, now is the time to start. Even a short walk each day should improve the quality of your sleep. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results immediately; experts say it can take a few weeks for exercise’s sleep benefit to kick in.
3) Maintain a healthy weight
If you’re overweight, dropping some pounds will help you sleep better. And here’s a bonus: once you’re sleeping better you’ll find it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
4) Quit caffeine early in the day
The caffeine in coffee, tea, sodas and chocolate can stay in your system for 12 hours or more, so plan your daily “last call” for caffeine accordingly.
5) Address stress
Be proactive about reducing the stress in your life so it will be less likely to cause sleepless nights. For example: if money worries keep you up at night, make a budget and stick to it; get financial advice from an expert if you need to. Then, when the nighttime worries come, you can firmly say, “I’m already working on that. I’m going to sleep now.” Another idea is to keep a notebook on your bedside table. When persistent thoughts keep you from sleeping, jot them down and tell yourself, “I will deal with this in the morning.”
6) Pay attention to the way lighting affects sleep
The body produces a natural hormone called melatonin in response to darkness. Melatonin helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. Exposing yourself to plenty of natural sunlight or bright artificial lighting during the day will keep your melatonin levels low, allowing you to be alert and active. Using dimmer lighting as bedtime approaches will raise your melatonin levels, enabling you to sleep. It’s a good idea to avoid using electronic devices like TVs, computers and cell phones for an hour or so before you plan to sleep, as the light they emit mimics sunlight and can reduce melatonin levels.
7) Eat light at night
Most people experience better sleep when they eat a light dinner and don’t eat again until breakfast. If you decide to snack before bed, choose wisely. Sweet snacks, including fruit, can cause a spike in blood sugar that may interrupt sleep. High-protein, low sugar snacks, such as a handful of nuts or some cottage cheese, are a better option.
8) Limit liquids at night
9) Guard the hour before bedtime
This last hour of the day should be spent winding down and preparing for sleep. Avoid anything stressful as you approach bedtime, such as paying bills, arguing, watching news, etc. Develop a bedtime relaxation routine that works for you. Your routine may include taking a leisurely bath, reading a good book or listening to peaceful music.
10) Prepare a soothing sleep environment
11) If you can’t sleep, get up
Instead of tossing and turning, get out of bed and do something restful, like reading a book or working on a quiet hobby until you feel drowsy. If you miss sleep during the night, force yourself to get up on time anyway: this will help to reset your inner clock and make you more likely to sleep better the next night.
12) Say no to the snooze alarm
Hitting the snooze alarm repeatedly wastes precious sleep time because it keeps you from entering the deep restorative sleep that your body and brain need. It is better to set the alarm for the time you actually have to get out of bed.
A few final thoughts . . .
When I was in my twenties I went through a period of time when I was waking up every night in a cold sweat—in mysterious terror. A friend suggested I eat a little protein at night instead of my usual cookie. What a difference that one simple change made for me; I instantly began sleeping through the night again.
I hope one or two of the simple changes I’ve presented will make a difference for you. But if you try them and still can’t get a good night’s sleep, consider a visit with a sleep specialist. The thing that’s keeping you from restful sleep and better health may be easier to treat than you’ve imagined.
Tom Rath, Eat Move Sleep, Missionday, 2013
Photo by Nomao Saeki via Unsplash.com
Hi, I’m Kathryn Lerro, mother of two lovely daughters, wife of one fine man.
After 24 years of wandering (thanks to my husband’s Air Force career), we are back home on the East Coast. We currently live in Philadelphia where I enjoy writing, taking long walks, decorating my front window in South Philly tradition, talking to interesting people and eating great food.
As I’ve met people on my travels I’ve become keenly aware that most of us could use a healthy dose of encouragement. It is for this reason that I try to weave a message of hope into everything I write.
Hi, I am Melinda Haas, but you can call me Mindy. A true introvert, I delight in solitude with a good book or a movie. I like dabbling in nature photography while taking rigorous hikes. I adore my husband who is a ton of fun. He shares my wanderlust as well as my appetite for Indian and Thai food. Very often, you’ll find us dancing to Cumbia in the kitchen while we make dinner. We also love road tripping and exploring new places. (New England is our new favorite!)
Through my writing, I want to encourage and embolden others to push past the limits they place on themselves. I want to help people see that they can accomplish more than they think they were capable of.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website and blog is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to inspire, educate, offer hope and in some instances challenge attitudes and beliefs promoted in our society. We also provide information about Voice and Vision’s services and connections to basic resources in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, counseling, or treatment or cannot be used for identification of a diagnosis. Please seek help from a qualified physician or professional with any questions you may have regarding a physical, emotional or mental health condition, disability, or addiction.
Please note: The views and opinions expressed by the authors on the blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Voice and Vision, Inc. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.