Sleep is one of the most important things there is when it comes to living a healthy life, both physically and mentally. However, most people still compromise with it time and time again and consistently ignore the benefits of having proper sleep every day.
Having a World Sleeping Day is like having Valentine’s Day, it calls into awareness something we should be practicing on a daily, not yearly, basis. Like love, sleep is a vital commodity to our health and happiness.
Specifically, the research shows that consistently getting a good night’s sleep has an abundance of benefits including:
- Improving your learning and memory, which is helpful at work (and relationships!)
- Decreasing the risk for depression
- Helping you lose weight and keep it off
- Making it less likely to get into accidents
- Having less illness
- Boosting athletic performance
Just to name a few.
Unfortunately, over one-third of Americans are not consistently getting the sleep they need. This can lead to a host of problems, including obesity, depression, mood swings, irritability, poor problem solving, health issues, and even psychosis.
What’s more, the result of sleep deprivation can be deadly. For example, AAA found that one in six fatal traffic accidents is a result of the driver being overly tired.
So, what can you do to get a good night’s sleep?
Many of my clients, when they hear me talk about getting sleep, roll their eyes. “Seriously? Where am I going to find the time? I can barely get everything done as it is when I sneak in only 4 hours. And now you want me to double that?!”
Yup! When you get the sleep your body needs, you will actually get more done in less time because your mind and body are much more efficient on the task at hand.
So, here are 7 steps to getting the sleep you need to be at the top of your game:
1. What time is it?
Schedule your sleep. Life can sometimes move at a snail’s pace, and other times fly by (like when you are binge-watching your current Netflix passion). Rather than going to bed “when you finished up everything” (let’s face it, that never happens) or when you feel completely relaxed (does that even happen either?), develop a specific schedule of when you will go to bed and wake up. And, in addition to having an alarm in the morning, set a reminder when it is time to get ready for bed.
Keep the same schedule every night even on weekends. I know, I like to sleep in on weekends, too, but if you want to train your body to consistently get good sleep, this is important.
2. Naps over Snooze Taps
While it can be so tempting to hit snooze (maybe even more than once), it turns out that getting up at the same time and taking a brief (10-30-minute nap) during the day is better for you. Why?
This allows your body to maintain the sleep-wake rhythm you established in step 1 while still getting a boost of sleep if needed.
3. Stop Screening
TV, computer, iPad, and cellular phones all have lights that can excite your nervous system, which is not what you need before bed. So turn these all off at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Yes, I realize that may seem painful to some of you, but I can tell you my clients who actually shut down their phones and other devices are able to get much more restorative sleep.
4. Darken the Lights
In addition to screens, bright lights in the room can lead to your body being more awake.
Get dimmers on your lights in the bedroom- and bathroom. Or change your light bulb in your lamp next to your bed to one with a lower wattage. And make sure your room is dark when you sleep. That may mean covering windows with light-blocking blinds or wearing a sleep mask.