We all do it.
“Just one more show before I go to bed…”
But then that one show turns into two, then three, and then it’s 1:00 a.m. and you have to be up in five hours to get ready for work. So begins the vicious cycle. You’re exhausted all day at work, and then you get home and watch TV with plans to go to bed early. But that doesn’t happen, because at 10:00 p.m. you get your “evening energy” (not a scientific term, but a phenomenon I frequently experience) and end up staying up until 1:00 a.m. again. You can’t win!
But you can win, and you will win, with our help! There are some things that you can do that will greatly enhance your sleep experience. The more quality sleep you get in the evenings, the more productive you will be during the day. Just keep reading to find out how to enhance your rest and get the most out of your days!
1) Try to keep the same sleep schedule every single day. Go to bed at the same time every night (or at least within 30 minutes or your usual), and get up at the same time every morning. Do your best not to break this routine on weekends, even though it may be tempting! If you do lose sleep one night, opt for a nap, instead of sleeping in the next day. This way you will be able to keep your sleep schedule. Also, don’t just sit on your couch after dinner! Get out for a walk or do some sort of activity to keep your blood pumping and your digestion moving.
2) Regulate your sleep-wake cycle. When you are in dim lighting or comfortable, warm places for a long period of time, your body begins to release melatonin. This causes you to feel drowsy. So when you get up in the morning, try to expose yourself to natural, bright lighting as soon as you rise. If you work in an office, try to take breaks and get some sunshine every hour or two. This will help keep you awake and boost your productivity. Alternatively, when you are going to bed, try to avoid staring at your computer screen or TV screen. The light from both of these will have a reverse effect, and actually make you stay up longer then you should. Even a digital alarm clock or small light can have an adverse effect on your sleep schedule. To summarize: want to wake up? Get as much light as possible. Want to sleep? Get into the dark.
3) Create a relaxing bedtime schedule for yourself. Make a consistent effort to unwind before bed and get yourself into sleep mode. Have a bath. Keep the noise low, or have calming music/white noise. Light a calming, aromatic candle. Read a book instead of watching TV. Make sure your bed is nice and comfortable, with comfortable pillows and the perfect amount of blankets. Try to make going to bed something that you look forward to. Something that I find helps me, is to wash my sheets and pillow cases, and make my bed perfectly. Then I can’t wait to crawl into bed!
4) Ensure your bed is only used for sleeping and sex. Don’t eat, or watch tv, or even read in your bed. You can train your body to think of bed as a place where you go to sleep (and play) and that’s it. Then, when it comes time to go to bed, your body with automatically to into sleep mode.
5) Eat right and exercise. Try to avoid large meals before bed. Avoid alcohol before bed as well. People think that a night-cap will help them sleep, but it actually does the opposite. While it might make you fall asleep faster, it will disrupt the quality of your sleep. You should also avoid caffeine up to 10-12 hours before bedtime. Smoking can also have a huge impact on your sleep because nicotine is a stimulant. Cut out all the bad stuff, and you will sleep much better!
6) Keep your stress and anxiety levels managed. If you are stressed, it will be more difficult for your body to slip into a totally relaxed state. Try meditating or doing light yoga before bed. Try taking deep breaths and envisioning a peaceful place.
NOTE: If you are having more serious sleep issues, or are unable to sleep, you should consult a doctor. We are not doctors, and cannot diagnose your sleeping disorder. Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Sacrificing sleep can be very detrimental to your health.