Today.com has a great article on tips for getting a more restful night’s sleep. Putting your body on a schedule is one of the best ways to do this. According to Michael Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of several books on sleep, “Our bodies have an internal rhythm that takes cues from daytime behaviors, so the more strictly a person adheres to a schedule, the more his or her body will know when to sleep.”
They put together an hour by hour action plan to help you fall asleep and stay asleep by 11pm. You can adjust the times to compensate if your bedtime is earlier or later.
7am: Wake up at the same time each day. One day of sleeping in can sabotage you for the rest of the week. Our internal clocks crave consistency so the more you stick to a schedule then easier it will be for you to fall asleep and wake up.
8am: Seek some light. When it is dark outside, your body produces the hormone melatonin, which tells your brain that it is time for bed. Daylight signals the body to suppress melatonin production so you can remain bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. For a dose of alertness in the morning, try to get some direct sun exposure for 30 minutes within one hour of waking up. Use this time for a daily walk, a cup of coffee on the porch, or another outdoor activity that you enjoy.
2pm: Drink your last latte, frap, or coffee. Caffeine can stay in your system for eight or more hours so try to avoid anything caffeinated too late in the day. This may take some getting used to but in the long run, your body will thank you for it.
5:30pm: Get a workout in. Working out is one of the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep. According to Peter Walters, PhD, professor of applied health science at Wheaton College and author of multiple studies about the links between sleep and exercise, “Exercise reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and helps you sleep more soundly for longer periods.” Schedule your workout for whenever you’re most likely to stick with it but if you find that late night exercise is keeping you up, try to end it at least four hours before your bedtime.
6PM: Limit fluids. If you are prone to take up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, avoid drinking too much late in the day. Drink when you are thirsty but don’t go overboard at night. Get most of your eight daily glasses of water in before bedtime.
7PM: Have your nightcap early. Stick with one or two alcoholic beverages at the most around dinnertime and make sure you don’t drink anymore at least three hours before bed time.
8PM: Prepare your room. To create a peaceful sleep environment, make sure there is no stress-inducing clutter, and keep your room cool. Sixty-five degrees is ideal for most people.
9pm: Jot down your worries. To avoid the anxious worries that tend to flood your head before you drift off to sleep, try designating some time earlier in the evening to write in your journal, write out your to-do list, or work through any other issues that may be bothering you.
10PM: Wind down. Late nights on the computer before bed could be killing your sleep. Studies have found that a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous backlit devices such as e-readers, smartphones, and computers suppressed melatonin by about 22%. Texting or playing games can stimulate your brain and make it too alert which will inhibit your sleep. Give yourself an “electronic curfew” and stick to it. Also try doing a nightly ritual that relaxes the mind and body like yoga, reading, or meditation.
11PM: Hit the sack and Zzzzzzz.
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