Your boss expects the finished proposal in the morning. That graduate paper isn’t going to write itself. Junior won’t sleep through the night so you’re online for answers—quick! You pride yourself on being a rock star in the productivity department, but are the demands of life cutting into valuable sleep time? If you’re relying on coffee or energy drinks to get you through the day, it’s time to re-evaluate your sleep routine and get you back on track.
How much sleep do you really need?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults get at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of American adults are missing the mark.
What if I don’t get enough sleep?
Sleep deprivation can not only make you less effective behind the desk or steering wheel, but chronic sleep loss can put you at higher risk for:
- High-blood pressure
And even more serious disorders have been attributed to lack of sleep, like heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
If that’s not enough to convince you sleep is a high priority, according to several studies it kills your sex drive. Seriously!
Are there benefits that come with enough sleep?
Yes, both mental and physical. When sleeping, your brain is busy consolidating memories and forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Pretty important if you’re trying to learn a new language or play the guitar. Your body is also healing itself when it sleeps, including repairing your heart and blood vessels.
So, how do I change my sleep routine?
Getting enough zzz’s may seem challenging when you lead a busy life. But follow these tips and you’ll be off to dreamland in no time, recharging for another high-energy day.
Establish a routine. Prime your brain for sleep by following the same bedtime rituals each night. Take a shower, brush your teeth, engage in a quiet activity like reading a book or meditation—these activities tell your mind it’s time to power down and get some rest.
Back away from the screens. Easier said than done in this device-driven age. However, make a conscious effort to turn off your smartphone, iPad, TV and other gadgets at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. The blue light from these devices tricks your brain into believing it’s still daytime, sabotaging your body’s need to slow down for sleep.
Exercise daily. Whether it’s a brisk walk with the dog after work, or a full-on circuit session in the morning, physical activity eases stress and anxiety, and also promotes a good night’s sleep. Just be sure to log exercise 5 or 6 hours before bed. Get your sweat on too close to bedtime, and it will lengthen the time it takes for your body to settle into sleep.
Set up a sleep sanctuary. Leave the stresses of the day at your bedroom door. How?
- Invest in a quality mattress for good support.
- Select bedding made with high-thread count breathable cotton. This type of cotton fiber comes with a hollow core and provides more comfort, allowing you to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
- It’s not just the sheets you need to consider, but the mattress pad and pillow, too. You want to build your bed with layers of comfort.
- Place a personal diffuser with essential oils (lavender is a well-known sleep aid) close to your bed.
- Drown out noise pollution with constant ambient sound. It can be as simple as a fan, or an app that creates white noise.
Setting yourself up for success in the sleep department is one of the easiest changes you can make to improve your health. You can bet a good night’s sleep on it. Sweet dreams!