Many people share in a lack of a restful night of sleep. Lack of sleep can leave us feeling: tired, irritable, depressed, and in despair. Don’t despair just yet, there are some simple things we can do to promote a better night of sleep.
1. Exercise in the morning or daytime.
Exercise strengthens our cardiovascular systems, fights aging and increases longevity, raises energy levels during the day, and can also contribute to a more restful night of sleep. After a good workout, and a long day at work, our bodies are much more prepared for a good night of sleep.
2. Don’t oversleep to make up for a lack of sleep.
We are often tempted (especially on a day off), to spend 12 hours laying in bed after a long work week. This can actually disrupt our sleep cycle and patterns, and make it harder to fall and stay asleep at night. Aiming for 6-8.5 hours of sleep each night is better than doing several nights of 4 hours of sleep and then 12 to make up for lost sleep.
3. Try to go to bed around the same time each night, and wake up around the same time each morning.
Getting your body into a routine will greatly increase your chances of falling asleep at the right time and waking up at the right time. Many people use melatonin to help them fall asleep, but this is actually a misuse of the supplement. Melatonin is intended to be used as a sleep regulator, meaning that it regulates your sleep cycle. If you have been staying up til 1 am for a week and need to get back to going to sleep at 10pm then you can take no more than 1 mg at around 9:15 or 9:30, to help fall asleep. Getting our bodies into a natural rhythm and routine is one of the best things we can do for our sleep quality.
4. No caffeine within 6-8 hours of bedtime.
Many of us grab a coffee on the way home from work at 530pm to fight the afternoon fatigue, but caffeine can take up to 10 hours to completely metabolize. If we plan to go to bed at 11pm, your last dose of caffeine should be no later than 5pm, but cutting off the coffee at 3pm is an even better idea if sleep is your main concern.
5. Practice relaxing right before, or as you lay down at night.
Laying in bed, eyes closed, and focusing on a forced relaxation of your body can help you fall asleep. Feel your entire body, and slowly start to relax it one muscle at a time from your head and neck down to your feet and toes. We tend to carry a lot of pent up tension in your bodies from stressful days and manually releasing this tension can quickly increase your ability to let go and fall asleep for the night. Focus on deep breaths, relaxing your body, and quieting your mind and you will be asleep in no time.