Political strife, environmental disasters, worldwide violence, social media: Any one of them is enough to keep you up at night. And that’s before you’ve even factored in your own day-to-day stress, from your commute to keeping yourself fed properly to dealing with the people who need things from you at work, at home and out in the world.
Modern adults as a group work longer, stretch themselves thinner and end their days more stressed out than ever. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” as the saying goes. (Counterpoint: You can die if you don’t sleep.) But if you’re not sleeping, you’re not rested, which means you’re prone to overeating, illness, poor job performance and waning mental health. Here are four tips to help ensure you’re getting the rest you need.
Eat and drink with care
To have a good night’s sleep, you must consider how you spend your days. Napping, drinking caffeine later in the day (studies show you need at least six-hour buffer), or having a few beers or a heavy late-night snack will all affect your sleep quality. Physical activity and exercise will offer better benefits since you’ll be physically tired, though don’t make exercising your last task of the day – those endorphins may keep you up. Use them earlier in the day to boost your mood so you’re more relaxed come bedtime.
Manage your stress
The most difficult part of sleeping – or living, really – is stress management. Through the course of a busy day, it’s easier to push aside concerns about money, health, parenting, home, relationships and so on. But quiet in the dark, it all comes roaring in. So as best you can, attempt to manage stress while you’re (supposed to be) awake. Identify your stress triggers and avoid them where possible. Eat well. Go for a walk. Breathe. Stretch. Talk about your issues, to your friends, spouse or a professional. Don’t leave it all for you to chew on alone at the end of every day.
Create a restful environment
A good sleep environment is also key. You spend more time on your mattress than any other surface – invest in a good one. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. Don’t pretzel yourself around your dog or laptop. Consider applying the soothing scent of lavender to your pillowcases.
Stick to a schedule
Keep in mind that the rest period doesn’t begin when you fall down in the general direction of the bed – it’s a process. It’s recommended adults aged 26 to 64 get seven to nine hours nightly, and any less than six is considered a no-no. Which means that (just like a baby), you need a sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night – or at least weeknights – and wake up at the same time every day. But you need to back up your process even more: before bed, develop a ritual: Wash your face, floss, moisturize, and/or read. Resist the urge to scroll or Netflix – the blue light makes it harder for you to fall asleep after.
Your turn: Share your tips for a good night’s sleep in the comment section below.
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