Sleep is important. Scientists recommend the average adult maintain at least seven to eight hours of quality rest every night. Contrary to popular belief, one does not “catch up on” those missed hours. That means even one night of bad sleep can have long-lasting effects. For those insomniacs in the audience, one bad night can lead to two, three, four, or dozens. How do we help ourselves fall asleep more easily?
Download an app for that. There are plenty of ways to measure the sleep we get. Did you know that several apps or wearable devices can help you figure out when you’re in REM sleep and how much you’re getting? They can even help lift us out of light sleep close to wake up time so we feel less groggy throughout the day.
Exercise in the morning. Getting outdoors right away can accomplish a number of things. Not only will exercise fill your brain with those feel-good chemicals, but it’s keep you healthier for longer, give you a boost of energy throughout the day, and help you fall asleep when it’s actually time to fall asleep.
Eat right. Nutrition is a big part of whether or not we’ll sleep okay that night. Avoid too much sugar or caffeine in the latter half of the day. While alcohol might make you feel like it’s easier to go to fall asleep, it’s an illusion. You’ll have even more trouble falling asleep the next day, plus alcohol-induced sleep won’t give you proper rest. You might be unconscious, but your body isn’t regenerating itself the right way.
Avoid blue light. This is hardest for people. We’re more likely to get home from work, eat dinner, and then sit in front of the TV for the rest of the night. And that’s in between staring at our phones. But the blue light from these devices can activate our brains and make it harder to wind down at the end of a long day. Even turning all the lights on in the house can hinder our chances of a good night’s sleep. It’s best to dim those lights and turn the computers and TVs off a couple hours before bed.
Read. This is a great way to shut your brain down. It doesn’t even have to be a boring book! Reading can be soothing and relaxing and is best done an hour or so before bed.
Listen to white noise. While you’re reading, try asking Alexa to turn on soothing white noise like ocean waves, wind, or rain. These outdoors sounds will help your brain tune out other nuisance sounds. The calmer you are, the easier a time you’ll have getting to bed.