I often wake up thinking “why am I so tired??”. I know the reason but somehow getting enough sleep still eludes me. Sleep is an important part of maintaining wellness that almost every working professional I know has trouble with. Whether it’s noisy neighbors, too much work, travel, a new pet, a new partner, or anxiety, getting enough sleep can be challenging. Most of us suffer from a sleep deficit during the work week which we may or may not catch up on during the weekends. Not sleeping enough can make it difficult to accomplish your goals. Eventually, it affects your wellness. It definitely makes weight loss harder by decreasing your athletic performance and increasing your appetite. Lack of sleep can also affect your motivation, memory, and test taking skills. Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Here are 10 tips to help you achieve a consistent sleep schedule, so you can stop waking up feeling tired.
1. Start a pre-bedtime routine: Winding down with a small routine may help you fall asleep faster. Self-care routines with pleasant smelling skin products are an easy way to start. Ten minute meditation with a lavender scented eye pillow before bed is also a good way to get your brain in sleep mode. Try to be consistent with this routine every night – it may take a few tries to start working.
2. Make the room pitch black: Black out shades are a great way to block light from the street. Take a minute to assess your bedroom to see if any other extraneous light is present while you sleep. Light from things like alarm clocks and other tech may affect your ability to fall asleep and can affect your body’s internal clock known as the Circadian rhythm.
3. Avoid staring at a screen right before bed: This is a must. No device screens or tv for at least 30 minutes before getting into bed. Just spending 10 minutes on your phone before bed may work against your entire pre-bedtime relaxation routine. This is because the blue light can affect your melatonin levels. Instead, keep your devices away from your reach to avoid temptation.
4. Make time for exercise every day: Outdoor exercise in particular is very beneficial to sleeping better at night. Exposure to bright light during the morning can help keep your Circadian rhythm in check. Sedentary people are more likely to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep because they don’t get enough physical activity. It’s best to avoid working out right before bed however, as adrenaline can also keep you up.
5. Use your bed for sleeping and intimacy only: It’s best to reserve your bed for actual sleeping. Eating in bed, working in bed, and spending long periods of time in your bed not sleeping may confuse your brain. For optimal sleep, your bedroom should be a quiet, temperature controlled place designed for getting serious rest only. Eating in bed can worsen acid reflux and watching tv in bed has been linked with obesity.
6. Avoid overdoing stimulants and alcohol: Drinking caffeine late in the day or having a consistent high intake of caffeine during the day can stimulate your brain even at night. Avoid stimulant medications such as decongestants (like Pseudophedrine) before bed. Watch for hidden caffeine in foods like dark chocolate or matcha flavored desserts. Alcohol may make you fall asleep faster but it can also cause you to have interrupted sleep as it wears off. (It may also make you run to the bathroom all night.)
7. Try white noise: There are lots of great white noise machines available for this that you can set on a timer. If you don’t want to buy one, consider water sounds, spa music, or rain forest sounds as you fall asleep. The lowest tech option is a fan. If white noise is not your thing, try ear plugs.
8. Avoid prescription sleep aids long term: Your body can become dependent on these. Once you use them regularly it may be hard to break the habit. They can also have dangerous side effects such as sleepwalking and can affect memory if used long term. Some can make you wake up still feeling tired – like a hangover. If you do need one, limit it to specific times such as for travel.
9. Adjust the temperature: Several studies show that lowering the ambient temperature helps you sleep better. Try cooling your bedroom down and using a heavier blanket. Dress lightly and stick to cotton sheets and lightweight PJs. There’s nothing worse than waking up in a sweat. Experiment with what works for you. Several studies suggest that 65F is the optimal temperature for better sleep.
10. Invest in a high quality mattress, pillow, or body pillow: This is so important -especially if you suffer from a stiff neck or back. A good mattress helps make you feel comfortable and supported. It can also help stabilize movement from a partner who tosses and turns. Try switching to a memory foam pillow or mattress topper. These feel like a warm hug and some have cooling technology built in. Body pillows also create a cloud like, supportive atmosphere.
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