At times, it can seem like everyone on Earth is getting plenty of sleep – but you. Some people have what it takes to drink two cups of coffee and still go in their room for a nice little nap, while you struggle to nod off after 48 hours of sleep deprivation – how do they do it?
Sleep pros know there are five habits they have that you might not. This is the competitive edge they use to get plenty of rest each night. If your sleep deprivation isn’t due to a medical condition, try implementing these tactics into your everyday routine to see if it helps you get your Zs.
Sleep Pro Habit #1: Stick to a Schedule! If you’re trying to go to bed at 8 PM one night and 2 AM the next, your poor body can’t get on a steady cycle of sleep. It needs a routine so that it can differentiate between daytime tasks and nighttime rest.
Sleep pros who get in bed at the same time each night and wake up on schedule each morning program their bodies to relax, like a science! If you want to include naps in your schedule, make sure they’re at the same time each day, too. Just be aware that naps can impede your nighttime sleep if they’re too long.
Sleep Pro Habit #2: Just Say “No” to Stimulants! You might recognize you have trouble sleeping, but don’t even think that 24-ounce Coca Cola you had at 9 PM could be the cause.
Caffeine, as well as other stimulants like electronic gadgets (video games, Television, and the Internet) can all contribute to your sleeplessness. Avoid products like alcohol, tobacco, chocolate, and sodas during the evening hours – save them for the daytime when you’re telling your body it’s okay to be alert and awake.
Sleep Pro Habit #3: Move Your Body Toward Sleep! Exercise may be the medicine you need to engage in a deep slumber tonight. Insomnia occurs less frequently in those who exercise on a regular basis for at least 20-30 minutes a day.
You don’t want to exercise near bedtime, but in the morning or afternoon instead. Studies have shown that many sedentary individuals who suffered from insomnia found their sleep disorder disappeared once they began an exercise regimen.
When you exercise, you’re relieving tension and increasing your body’s production of endorphins. You don’t have to exercise vigorously – a moderate walk is enough to aid you in your quest for sleep.
Sleep Pro Habit #4: No Napping! Just as eating in between meals ruins your appetite, napping between deep sleep can prevent many sleep disorder sufferers from being able to fall asleep and get a full night’s rest.
For some, a nap is just the medicine they need to re-energize for the day, but if you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, a nap may cause more harm than good. Even though in the beginning you may feel extremely sleepy, try to save your slumber for the middle of the night and not for a mid-day luxury.
Sleep Pro Habit #5: Don’t Go Back for Seconds! It’s a Thanksgiving ritual for many – stuff yourself so full you have no choice but to waddle down the hall and flop into bed for a nap.
But eating too much – especially near bedtime – can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. Being overly stuffed with food can make sleeping uncomfortable, and if you’re one of the unlucky ones to suffer from indigestion, it can be a painful experience, too. Instead, eat just enough to quell your hunger and go to bed satisfied, but not distressed.
Not every sleep pro solution will work for everyone. The key is to find what works for you. Make lifestyle changes, keep records of your sleep quality, and seek out help from your doctor if signs and symptoms worsen.
Anxiety, stress, jet lag, a medical condition – all could be causes of a sleep disorder or impairment. While treatment of such problems will vary from person to person, a good sleep environment is never a bad idea.
By creating such an environment, it could prove the necessary first step on your road to a better night’s sleep (and all the positive effects that come with it). Here are five essentials to keep in mind when creating your own “good sleep environment.”
1. Keep the Bedroom a Place of Rest: These days, many of us have notebook computers, wireless Internet, and other mobile devices that make it possible for us to transform any room into an office.
But if you suffer from a sleep disorder, make sure you keep your bedroom a bedroom – a place of rest away from work and play. Don’t allow the bedroom to become an office, a playroom, or a TV room. Those who suffer from sleep disorders need to eliminate all distractions in the form of noise, light, or activity.
2. Ideal Temperature: When creating a good sleep environment, you need to make sure you minimize any discomfort. Being too cold or too hot can disrupt a comfortable sleep and once disrupted (for a person with a sleep disorder) it may be difficult to get back into a deep slumber.
Keeping the room at a constant, ideal temperature will help you get and stay asleep. While it’s debatable as to what the best temperature is, it can be agreed upon that anything about 75 degrees Fahrenheit is too warm and anything below 54 degrees, too cold.
Try a median between 60–70 degrees (65) as a compromise, but the deciding factor should be you personally and what you find to be “ideal.” If you keep kicking the covers off or shivering yourself awake, adjust the temperature until it’s just right – and make note of what that number is for you.
3. Comfortable Bed: One symptom of a sleep disorder or impairment is tossing and turning during the night, and one reason you may be restless is because your mattress is uncomfortable.
As with most anything in life, what’s “right” for you (and your back, your posture, your comfort) is specific to your body. However, research has shown that supple mattresses may be more conducive to a good night’s rest versus a firmer one.
Definitely avoid sleeping on a lumpy mattress if it can be helped. A new mattress may be in order if you’ve outgrown your current one, either in size or comfort. If you have a spouse who prefers a different type of mattress, consider getting the type of bed where each of you set the mattress to your perfect number.
4. Keep the Clock Out of Sight: If you can, try to keep your clock out of sight. Set your alarm and then put it somewhere else or turn it away from you – out of your general view. For instance, instead of having the clock on the nightstand, put it on the dresser in the far corner.
If a clock is visible, you may find yourself staring at it or waking up periodically to look at it. If you’re making an effort to create a good sleep environment, it means that you’re aware of an impairment.
If you’re trying to break the cycle of sleeplessness, then it’s important that you don’t focus on time. Seeing how early it is or how little time has passed, can only lead to frustration.
5. No Lights: Remember that a dark bedroom can help your body “know” it’s time for rest. Light triggers a lot in us and is associated with our waking hours. To help the body adjust to a regular sleep cycle, make an effort to distinguish between daytime and bedtime.
When it’s time to sleep, keep light sources to a minimum, including when you get up to go to the bathroom. As with a TV, computer, or video game, you’ll want to avoid anything that can stimulate your brain or body out of rest. Even if your eyes are closed, light in your bedroom can disrupt your sleep.
If these steps are taken, in addition to noise reduction and a few other considerations, such as making a separate sleeping area for pets (that are used to sleeping with you) – then you should be on your way to eliminating some of the factors that may have been contributing to your persistent sleep problems.