Not only does a lack of sleep affect cognitive function on a daily basis, but it is also associated with long-term health concerns, including an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress, according to the CDC.
If you’re struggling to catch enough z’s on a nightly basis, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep patterns. Developing good sleep hygiene and sticking to it is key. Try these six science-backed tips below to improve your sleep schedule and you’ll start waking up feeling more refreshed and rejuvenated.
Set a schedule and stick to it
Setting a bedtime and wake-up time is key to feeling rested. Make sure you allow yourself time to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Once you find a schedule that works for you, stick with it no matter what. Yes, even on weekends. Keeping a regular sleep schedule maintains the timing of the body’s internal clock and can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily, according to Harvard Medical School.
Watch what you eat and drink before bed
Big meals, caffeine, and alcohol can all interrupt your sleep. A big meal too close to bedtime can cause discomfort once you lie down, while caffeine and alcohol are both stimulants that will make it hard to fall asleep and can keep you awake at night.
Create a relaxing environment
It’ll be much easier to fall asleep at night if your bedroom promotes relaxation. Making a few simple adjustments can greatly improve your environment. Remove all electronic devices if possible, including your phone. If you must have your phone for an alarm clock, for nighttime meditation, or sleep sounds, try switching it to bedtime mode so you aren’t disturbed. Make sure your room is completely dark and cool. Cover up any lights, try blackout curtains, and keep the temperature at around 65 degrees for optimal sleep.
Develop a wind-down routine
Staying up late bingeing Netflix, then immediately trying to fall asleep will always fail. Turn off the TV, get off your phone at least 30 minutes before bed, and create a relaxing and enjoyable wind-down routine that’ll prepare your body and mind for sleep. Try taking a bath, reading a book, doing a skin care routine, or meditating to help you drift off into blissful oblivion.
Get plenty of exercise and daylight during the day
“Moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of…deep sleep [you get] where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate. Exercise can also help to stabilize your mood and decompress the mind, a cognitive process that is important for naturally transitioning to sleep,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. It’s also important to get enough exposure to light during the day as it helps regulate your circadian rhythm. Just try to avoid either too close to bedtime or it could keep you awake.
Don’t stay in bed if you can’t fall asleep
You want your bed to be associated with relaxation and sleep, not stress and anxiety. “If you get into bed and cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up, go to another part of your house, and do something soothing, such as reading or listening to quiet music,” the Sleep Foundation recommends.
xx, The FabFitFun Team