In a world where we bust our butts (and spend some serious cash) trying to make sure we eat top notch food, take the right vitamins, and exercise five times a week, it’s pretty sad that most of us ignore the one health habit that’s free – getting enough sleep. Sure, it takes time, but if you follow these sleep-boosting guidelines, you should be able to make the most of those precious hours between the sheets.
Set the scene.
Your bed should be reserved for sleep (um, and sex) only. If you turn your bed into a home office (papers, laptops, blackberries), is it any wonder that work stresses keep you from getting enough shut-eye? Think of your bed as a sleep shrine – when you go there, your body will know it’s time to shut down.
Even a small amount of light can affect your sleeping rhythms. Find curtains that completely block out the light (especially if you live in a city, where you get a lot of light pollution, even at night). Unplug everything in the room that has any lights, like power bars or computers (or cover them up with little pieces of electrical tape). And ditch your red digital alarm clock (is there anything worse than a flashing “3:00 a.m.” when you can’t fall asleep?).
Ease into it.
Your body needs a little time to unwind, so don’t expect to go from 100 percent to zero as soon as you’re finished your daily to-do list. Reserve a little time at the end of the day to help you relax. Again, try to stow the computer for a while – not only can it stress you out, but some studies show that the type of light emitted by computers wreak special havoc on your sleep hormones. And make sure not to exercise too close to bedtime – you need about five hours to cool off.
Eat for sleep.
It’s a given that a midnight cappuccino is a no-no, but if you have trouble falling asleep, you may want to consider cutting out caffeine altogether (that includes chocolate, tea, dark sodas, and even some over-the-counter medications). Food sensitivities can also cause sleep problems, so try keeping a diary to see if you can match up your restless nights with common culprits such as processed foods, sugar, or dairy. And remember that although alcohol might help you doze off (or pass out) sooner, it won’t provide you with the deep sleep your body needs.
What’s your no-fail trick for falling into a deep and restful sleep? Share with us!