Raise your hand if you’ve experienced any of the following lately: weight gain, dark circles under your eyes, forgetfulness, sallow skin, slow reflexes, lethargy, and a tad more cranky than usual. These are some of the effects of sleep loss. If you’ve been feeling any or all of these symptoms, then maybe all you need is a good nights’ sleep or three. Here are a few tips for you to sleep better:
Tip #1: Follow a regular sleep schedule
Sticking to a consistent sleep-wake cycle is a great way to sleep better. Proof: you’ll actually feel better rested if you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day rather than sleeping the same number of hours at varying times. What’s important is that you establish a regular bedtime and wake up at the same time each day.
With this approach, you can actually wake up naturally without an alarm clock–as long as you’re getting enough sleep. Don’t forget to follow the same schedule on weekends and holidays to avoid messing your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Tip #2: Control your exposure to light
Your body’s exposure to light affects your sleep-wake cycle, thanks to a hormone called melatonin. The brain produces more of this hormone in the evening when it’s dark and this makes you sleepy. During the day when there’s more light, your brain would secrete less melatonin to keep you awake and more attentive.
Because of this, you should control your exposure to the light, especially at night. To stay awake at work, take your breaks outdoors and under the sun. You can also open curtains and blinds to let the light in. Likewise, make an effort to stay away from bright lights (e.g. your computer, television, or tablet), especially when it’s close to bedtime. A sleep mask helps too.
Tip #3: Develop a relaxing bedtime habit
Doing a relaxing habit regularly before going to bed will help you sleep more easily. This tells your brain that it’s time to unwind. Relaxing habits includes listening to calming music, reading a book, or having a warm shower. Doing these with the lights turned down would also help.
Tip #4: Manage your stress
Stress from worry and anger could keep you awake at night. If this happens frequently, try to pinpoint what’s stressing you out so that you can address it. You can ease your work and relationship anxieties by learning better time management, setting priorities, delegating responsibilities, and getting more organised. You should also allow yourself to take a break when necessary and find time to socialise with friends. By handling stress productively, you’ll be sleeping better in no time.
Tip #5: Avoid naps during the day
Your daytime nap could be interfering with your night-time sleep. Nothing wrong with a 15-minute snooze in the middle of the day, but try not to sleep any more than a half hour, especially if you have insomnia.
But if you work during the graveyard shift, you’ll have to ignore this siesta ban completely. To help you fall asleep when the sun is up, keep your room dark by covering windows with thick curtains and/or blinds. The sunlight causes your brain to stop producing melatonin, making it more difficult to sleep between shifts.
Tip #6: Exercise regularly
Want to sleep better? Exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes each day. What’s great about this time requirement is that you can break it down into several smaller chunks throughout the day. For instance, you can do 10 minutes of household chores, 10 minutes of brisk walking, and another 10 minutes of biking when you get home.
Tip #7: Eat healthy
What you put in your stomach plays a role in the quality of your sleep. Fatty foods and heavy meals make it difficult for your stomach to digest–so difficult, in fact, that the process would keep you awake well into the night.
Keep an eye on your caffeine and alcohol intake as well. Caffeine can make sleeping difficult for you even after 10 to 12 hours. Alcohol is also guilty of messing with the quality of your sleep. To avoid these effects and make your night-time slumber a breeze, avoid consuming beverages with alcohol and caffeine