Wish you not only slept more but that you also slept better? Kevin Jones — freelance writer, researcher and fitness instructor/consultant — has helped hundreds of people find ways to become more fit and healthy through a balanced life focusing on an individualized approach to their nutrition and fitness. In addition, Kevin has written extensively in the fitness and health industries, including writing for companies such as a ICON Fitness brand NordicTrack. Today, Kevin is sharing the small things healthy people do to make the most of their zzzs. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn and Twitter, and rest his tips below for a better night of sleep tonight!
You know how children and toddlers fight sleep? They throw tantrums at the very mention of the word “bed” or “nap.” But adults don’t seem to have the same problem. On the contrary, most would love an opportunity to take a nap, particularly in the afternoon when they can’t stop the yawns at work.
Research has revealed some pretty surprising and nasty consequences of lack of sleep, including:
- Disturbed emotions
- Serious health conditions (including heart disease and diabetes)
- Impaired brain activity
- Impaired immune system leading to cold and flu
- Weight gain
- Sagging skin, particularly in the face and neck region
- Micro sleep (falling asleep for a few minutes or seconds without realizing it, which can be dangerous if driving or operating heavy machinery)
The physical and mental repercussions of not getting enough sleep should be enough to spur anyone into action. If you’re feeling tired most of the day, here are some things you should do to get a more restful night’s sleep.
1. Set a Schedule
It’s important to set and stick with a consistent sleep-wake schedule in order to set your body’s internal clock and help it develop quality circadian rhythms. Choose a realistic time that matches with your lifestyle and go to sleep at the same time each night. Set your alarm to wake at the same time every morning, and you’ll feel more refreshed from day to day.
2. Avoid Naps and Extra Sleep on Weekends
If you must take a nap, make it a “cat nap” that’s limited to 15 to 20 minutes. That’s just enough sleep to rejuvenate your body for a few more hours, but not too much that you won’t be able to sleep at night. On weekends, try to avoid sleeping in, as this can mess disrupt your sleep-wake cycle and reduce the amount of quality sleep your achieve.
3. Fix Your Bedroom Environment
Perhaps the reason you’re struggling to sleep is your bedroom. Here are some ways you can improve your sleep environment for maximum quality sleep:
- Use blackout curtains to limit your exposure to light, particularly during the summer when the days are longer.
- Use calming colors on the bedroom walls, bedspread, and décor to promote restful sleep.
- Keep the television and other technology out of the room to avoid distractions.
- Consider using a white noise machine to block out background noise, which is particularly useful if you live in the city.
4. Watch Your Eats
What you eat and drink has a profound effect on your sleep quality. Avoid eating for at least two hours before bed, but don’t go to bed hungry. Also, avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol for several hours before bed as these stimulants tend to keep you awake and promote restless sleep.
Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water throughout the day is the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Regular physical activity helps you to fall asleep faster at night and enjoy a deeper sleep. Just avoid exercising too close to bedtime, which can make it difficult to fall asleep as your body struggles to lower your heart rate and restore your body to normal.
6. Make Time to Wind Down
If you’re stressed before bed, you’ll have too many things on your mind to fall asleep. Engage in healthy stress relieving activities before bed, like watching a mindless television show in another room, writing in a journal, practicing relaxation techniques, and thinking only about the positive.
You’ll be able to fall asleep more quickly and the quality will dramatically improve.
How do you ensure that you’re getting good quality sleep each and every night? —Kevin Jones