Be honest: How many times have you had that extra drink at night or that soda in the afternoon? Didn’t get that walk in like you said you would? Suffered through a night of pain instead of talking with your doctor to help find a solution?
We’ve all done these things more than we’d like to admit – but hey, what’s the worst that could happen?
You will screw with your sleep, that’s what. You’ll deprive your body of its necessary building blocks and guarantee that it will under-perform. The worse part is that you’ll think this is normal. Like being drunk, you won’t even recognise it until it’s too late.
To help you out, we’re going to share with you seven things that you can to today to sleep better tonight. We’ll give you actual sleep data and resources to show you how effective these tips are. And we’ll encourage you the whole way through. A little change goes a long way, especially in the sleep department.
Ready? Let’s go.
Seven steps to sleep fitness:
1. Skip the caffeine
You think you can’t feel it? That you fall asleep just fine at night after that afternoon soda? Think again. Caffeine six hours out can be as disruptive or more so than caffeine three hours before bedtime – especially compared to no caffeine whatsoever.
2. Quit drinking after dinner.
There’s a reason why your doc says not to have more than two drinks a day. Too much alcohol interferes with so many aspects of your health, and your sleep (like your liver) takes a big hit.
3. Get moving.
You don’t need to run a marathon, but you can’t just sit there all day and expect yourself to have good sleep. Your body was made for movement, and deep sleep gets a boost from consistent, moderate exercise.
4. Dim the lights at night.
Light has the biggest impact on our circadian rhythm – far more so than food or social cues–so do yourself a favor and step away from the TV in the evening. If you truly must work after dinner, use a dimmer on your computer or laptop screen to block out blue light, as this wavelength of light can keep you awake longer than yellow light. Use an eye mask to block out unwanted light – and potential wake ups – during the night.
5. Keep cool.
Body temperature and room temperature both help us fall asleep, stay asleep, and get more restorative sleep, too. Keep your bedroom between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results.
6. Know your medication.
Numerous types of medication, from over-the-counter drugs to the ones your doctor prescribes, can have a noticeable affect on your sleep quality. If you are on medication, make sure you talk to your pharmacist or physician about any potential side-effects before making any changes. Always take as directed, too.
7. Respect chronic pain, physical ailments, and underlying health issues.
These are not fun in the least, and they’re often a big handicap for good sleep. Sometimes the pain is physical, sometimes it’s mental, but often the two work hand in hand. The most important things to do are:
- Talk to your doctor about it
- Treat any pain as best as you can to help minimise sleep disruptions
- Practice calming and relaxation techniques to ease your frustrations
- Celebrate your achievements, big or small.Feeling a bit better today than you did yesterday is a real big deal and can be a game changer in the long run.
We know that many of you out there have struggled with your sleep and get depressed or discouraged when you compare your sleep to others. Instead of worrying what you’re neighbour got, start looking at what you’ve got – and what makes you feel better.
So, go on. Take this list and mix things up. See how moderate exercise – that lunchtime walk, for example – compares to a high-octane gym session. Don’t try to ignore your pain. Instead, work with your doctor to help manage it.