Sleep. It’s arguably one of the most important aspects of our health, and probably the one we take most for granted. When you get enough, you feel amazing. When you don’t – well, you don’t feel the greatest, but you probably don’t think it’s as big of a deal as it is.
Getting enough sleep is essential for making sure our bodies remain strong and healthy. Sleep keeps your body strong enough to fight off illnesses, helps you think clearly, improves your mood and is essential to pain management.
If you’re not getting as much sleep as you’d like, try doing these 10 things:
1. Make a schedule and stick to it – Resolve to get a solid eight hours of sleep each night. Pick a time to go to bed each night, a time to rise each morning, and then stick to it. Resist the urge to watch one more House of Cards episode on Netflix or hit the snooze button in the morning.
2. Turn off all screens – The little blue light from cell phones, TVs, computers and tablets has been proven to interfere with sleep. Ban these devices from the bedroom (or at least make a rule that they have to be turned off one hour before going to sleep).
3. Get comfortable – Invest in sheets, blankets and pillows that help you relax. Most people sleep better in rooms that are slightly cooler than normal, so consider keeping the temperature cool as well.
4. If you have back pain, sleep with a pillow between your legs – Even mild lower back pain can disrupt sleep. If you have lower back pain, put a pillow between your legs to align your hips and reduce the stress on your lower back.
5. Cut off caffeine after noon – Tea or coffee are fine for the the morning, but cut off all caffeine by lunchtime. Avoid caffeinated sodas and opt for caffeine-free medications the rest of the day.
6. Avoid heavy foods before you snooze – You don’t want to be hungry before bed, but you also don’t want to fill up on heavy foods. Pick a light snack one hour before bed, such as cereal with milk or cheese and crackers.
7. Create a ritual – Do the same things each night to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. Take a hot bath or shower, read a light book or listen to relaxing music.
8. Limit naps – Resist the urge to take a nap, but if you must, take a quick one early in the morning — no longer than 20 minutes. If you hit a slump in the afternoon, find something to take your mind off your drowsiness.
9. Cut out alcohol – While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it doesn’t help you stay asleep. Once the effects wear off, alcohol actually causes you to wake more frequently during the night, cutting down on quality sleep.
10. Get fluffy her own bed – We love fluffy, but not at the expense of our sleep. Ban pets from the bed. Everytime they stir or move, it disrupts your sleep. Not to mention the fact that their fur can trigger allergies in your sleep.
Try doing these 10 things, and we guarantee you’ll see a significant increase in your quality of sleep (along with the other health benefits).
Looking for other health (and mood) boosting tips? Check out our “10 Things to Do When You’re Feeling a Little Blue” article.