Sleep is essential to your quality of life. Lack of sleep can negatively affect your physical and mental health and your safety. In addition to being less productive and less alert during your waking hours, not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of depression, hypertension, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. The National Sleep Foundation suggests getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night for optimal benefits. To meet this recommendation, incorporate various lifestyle adjustments to help you get the sleep you need.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
A sleep schedule means nothing more than going to bed and waking up at the same times each day including weekends. By doing this you can ensure that you get seven to eight hours of sleep. Initially, setting an alarm clock might be necessary to wake you up each day, but over time, your body adjusts to the regular routine, and you most likely won’t need the alarm anymore.
Develop a Sleep Routine
Various nighttime activities can make it easier to fall asleep. A warm bath, reading a book, light stretches and listening to soft music, can help you relax before bedtime. You don’t want to associate bedtime with stressful activities, such as work and bills, which can continue to go through your mind and keep you awake.
Although exercise can improve your sleep quality, if you do it right before bedtime, it can become harder to fall asleep. This is because exercise raises your body temperature, and in order to fall asleep, you’ll have to wait for your body to cool down. This is also why sleeping in a warm or hot room isn’t beneficial; keep the room temperature around 65 degrees Fahrenheit to promote good sleep, and exercise in the morning, afternoon or early evening, at least three hours before going to sleep.
Promote Melatonin Production
Your body’s perception of light and darkness helps you sleep at night and keep you awake during daytime. You can promote this natural sleep cycle by minimizing your exposure to light during bedtime, and increasing light exposure during daytime. When awake, open blinds and curtains and take off your sunglasses to promote light exposure. At night time, avoid light from the TV or from a laptop, and use blackout drapes to create a dark sleep environment, which can promote the production of melatonin in your body.
Avoid Late-Night Eating and Drinking
Eating a large meal right before going to bed can impact your sleep, because your body has to work at digesting the food, which can trigger indigestion or heartburn. Eat early in the evening, and if you’re hungry late at night, have a light snack, such as half a turkey sandwich or a banana. Drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, before bedtime, can also make sleeping more difficult. An alcoholic nightcap might help you fall asleep, but can also wake you up in the middle of the night. Limit drinking anything before bedtime, because constant trips to the bathroom can also impair your sleep.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Sleep Foundation