Sleep. It impacts concentration, stress levels, appetite, and energy levels. Yet too many of us sacrifice rest to meet the demands of today’s always-on lifestyles.
What really happens when we’re sleeping? Our bodies repair and refuel. They grow and restore muscle, regulate hormones, process information and create memories, and generally prepare us for the day ahead. Before you carve out an hour of sleep time to watch the next Bachelor episode or finish that last client email, check out these tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
- Don’t drink too much alcohol or caffeine late in the day.
Caffeine makes it harder to fall asleep, and alcohol disrupts sleep during the night. The more alcohol you drink before bed, the more pronounced its interruption of your sleep pattern. As for caffeine, studies vary on the exact time to stop drinking it before bed since our bodies process it at different rates. We recommend cutting off caffeine at least six hours before bedtime and sooner if it’s still keeping you awake.
- Don’t eat right before bed.
Finish your last meal two hours before you go to bed, so you don’t feel full and uncomfortable. Eating too much before bed can also trigger heartburn and reflux.
- Avoid screens before bed.
Some studies show that “screen time” with smartphones, televisions, and other devices can interfere with sleep. Give yourself about an hour between turning off your devices and turning in for the night.
- Make your bedroom a sanctuary.
Turn off or cover up any lights in the room, including those on televisions and computers, turn down the temperature, and create a dark, quiet place that’s peaceful, relaxing and reserved for sleep.
- Stick to a routine with the same bedtime and wake time each day.
Stick to your schedule, even on weekends and holidays, to reinforce your body’s sleep–wake pattern and enjoy better quality rest. As a stress buster, include preparation for the next day in your nightly routine to help calm your mind.
- Limit daytime naps.
Napping during the day can interfere with your nighttime rest, so limit naps to 10-30 minutes.
- Include exercise in your daily routine, but not too close to bedtime.
Regular physical activity promotes better, deeper sleep. But working out too close to bedtime can get you too revved up to fall asleep easily. Read our blog, “4 Ways to Increase Your Steps During the Workday,” for tips on squeezing more physical activity in during the day.
- Do something relaxing before bed.
Set the stage for a good night’s sleep by adding a relaxing routine before bedtime that includes a calm activity like reading, listening to music, meditating, or soaking in a warm bath. Here’s an 8-minute yoga workout for better sleep you can add to your relaxation routine.
Still having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? You could suffer from sleep apnea or other insomnia-causing conditions. Your doctor can help you pinpoint and address the issue with further lifestyle changes or medications. Our physician directory can help you locate a primary care provider who can help you work through sleep problems and other health concerns.