We all know we’re supposed to get eight hours of sleep a night. But these days that number seems impossible, right? There’s work to do. Books to read. Movies to watch. And Facebook doesn’t check itself. Never mind, in my case, a toddler who has decided 2am is party time!
So, what’s a sleep-strapped soul to do?
Well, over the past six months I have been tracking my sleep cycles using this app and this device, and along the way have learnt a few tricks that can help maximise whatever sleep you do get for optimum restfulness:
1. Exercise early
Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly – as long as it’s done at the right time. Because your body cruises on endorphins for a few hours after you work out, try schedule your workouts earlier in the day, and you’ll be out like a light come bedtime.
2. Get into a routine
Find a bedtime and stick to it. Disciplining yourself to set hours of work and rest will help set your body’s “internal clock” and train your body when to shut down.
3. Turn off the tech
Studies show that flickering screens like TVs, computers, and iPhones (guilty!) actually stimulate your mind. Try to not let a screen be the last thing you see before bed.
4. Cut the caffeine
This one is pretty obvious. Avoid caffeine after noontime. This includes coffee, tea, soda or other caffeinated drinks, as well as chocolate late in the day.
5. Nap early – or not at all
I’ve never been much of a “napper” myself, but my wife is a world-champion. However, for those who find falling asleep or staying asleep through the night problematic, afternoon napping may be one of the culprits. This is because late-day naps decrease sleep drive. If you must nap, it’s better to keep it short and before 5 p.m.
6. Stop worrying.
Nothing ruins a good night’s sleep like stress. Before you hit the hay, take a few minutes to chill out. Take a shower. Read a book. Pray. Put your mind at ease. The truth is whatever you’re worrying about isn’t going to get fixed at midnight.