Physicians agree that getting a good night’s sleep is the first and most important step to increased well-being and productivity. Further, studies have shown that getting fewer than seven or eight hours of sleep each night can increase the risk of developing heart disease and/or type 2 diabetes.
If stress or bad habits are robbing you of shut-eye, reviewing this checklist of sleep-inducing aids should help you keep your date with Mr. Sandman:
- Watch what you eat or drink late in the evening. Consuming a heavy meal shortly before bedtime can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort that keeps you awake. Excessive fluid intake before bedtime can lead to broken sleep due to the need to urinate—and remember that caffeine and alcohol are stimulants.
- Wind down sensibly. Exercise is great during the day, but not just before bedtime. Turn off your phone and computer a couple of hours before bedtime, as the blue light emitted from these devices can interrupt your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it is still daylight. Instead, take a warm bath or shower and read or listen to soothing music for an hour before turning in.
- Keep to a regular pattern. Get in the habit of getting up and going to sleep at the same approximate time every day. Your body clock functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset, so being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep. If you do this consistently for a few weeks, you may be surprised to find you no longer need an alarm clock!
- Optimize your bedroom environment. Your bedroom set-up can be key to restful sleep. Try to minimize external noise and light, and make your bedroom a quiet, relaxing, clean and pleasant space. Treat yourself to some inviting bed linens, and if your mattress is eight to 10 years old, it very likely needs replacing. Temperature is important, too. If you tend to wake up cold in the wee hours, throw on another blanket. If you typically wake up hot, install a ceiling fan.