Several people have told me lately that they are having troubles sleeping. I have that problem occasionally myself. Sometimes it’s a matter of that infernal “to-do” list cycling endlessly through your already exhausted mind.
Does that stress pattern sound familiar? How about the one that goes, “I should have said/done,” re-living the day’s events over and over at the expense of your sorely needed rest?
Poor sleep quality has been scientifically linked to obesity diabetes and depression, just to name a few.
Without further ado, here are 11 ways to get a great night’s sleep:
1. Turn it off: This should be a hard and fast rule: No electronics in the bedroom. This includes TV. Your bed should be for sex and sleeping only. They are distracting and disruptive.
2. Ditch your phone: Your phone should be in another room entirely. Notifications and screens flashing on and off with disrupt your sleep cycle and tempt you to check Facebook at 3 a.m. Never use your phone as a alarm because its electromagnetic frequencies are not only sleep disruptors, they can cause a host of health problems.
3. Pull the curtains: Make your room as dark as possible. Light interrupts the hormones your body produces to create deep rest. Covering the LEDs from your clock radio and even smoke detectors lights can make a difference.
4. Get out in the sun: Daytime exposure to natural light helps create the light-dark-light hormonal cycle that contributes to healthy sleep patterns. So many of spend more of our waking hours until office lights. Be sure to get outside, even on a cloudy day, for at least 20 minutes a day.
5. Wind down slowly: In that last hour before bed, gently make your way into sleep. Avoid agitating television shows or raucous music. Try taking a warm bath and listening to soothing music.
6. Say no to caffeine after 5: You probably already know to skip that after-dinner cup of coffee, but it’s also important to cut out other forms of caffeine that you might not have considered, including almost all soft drinks, black or green teas and (oh, no!) chocolate. Opt for a cup of chamomile tea or a sleepytime blend instead. This applies to alcohol and nicotine as well.
7. Eat early: Pepperoni pizza or a pint of Rocky Road at 10 p.m. is sure to keep you awake.
8. A large meal anytime close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep. Finish your last meal at least three hours before you climb into bed.
9. Gentle nighttime exercise: Save your vigorous walking running or gym workout for early in the day. After about 5 p.m. let your exercise routine be gentle—a stroll after dinner with your spouse of a relaxing yoga session will-put your body and mind in the right space for sleep.
10. Keep your sleep hours regular: You can’t “catch up” on the weekend by sleeping 12 hours to make up for several 5- or 6-hour nights during the week. Ultimately, your body will pay the price in terms of study-proven increased risks for obesity, diabetes and depression.
11. Nap early—or not at all: Napping can interrupt your sleep cycle and us usually an indicator that you aren’t getting a satisfying night’s sleep. If you must nap, do it before 2 p.m. to be sure that the nap won’t keep you up at night.