With the “spring forward” time change happening this Saturday, now is a good time to think about your sleeping habits. Because this is the one non-holiday weekend where we can all agree that we will feel tired on Sunday and probably on Monday when we go back to work as well. But are you consistently losing sleep? Whether you are waking up intermittently throughout the night or just not going to bed early enough to give you seven hours of sleep, you are probably feeling sleep deprived. We have all heard the studies that say poor sleep can increase our risks for chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. In fact, it is said that sleep is just as important as diet and exercise to overall health.
So what are some ways to get better quality sleep and to feel well rested? Here are some tips (Stelter, 2018):
- Your sleep schedule is key. By getting up at the same time and going to bed at the same time each day (including weekends), your body will have an easier time recognizing a sleep-wake cycle.
- The timing of dinner. Are you eating a heavy meal right before bed? Having food in your stomach can affect a good night’s sleep. Finish dinner within three hours before you go to bed.
- The timing of caffeine. Are you drinking caffeinated drinks later in the day? This, too, can affect your sleep. Some are more sensitive to caffeine than others, so there is no general rule of when to stop drinking coffee/tea/energy drinks. If you have caffeine in the afternoons, pay attention to how well you sleep to establish a cut off time for yourself going forward.
- No blue lights. Make your room free of electronics. The blue light from your phone, computer, and tablet affect your brain’s circadian rhythm. Turn off electronics 1-2 hours before bed to let your brain wind down.
- Temperature of the room. Too hot or too cold can interfere with a good quality sleep.
- Exercise promotes sleep. However, working out within a few hours of your bedtime can keep you up.
- Have a “wind down” routine to help your relax. Whether it’s reading, laying out your clothes for the next day, or writing in a journal, a routine tells your body that bedtime is coming soon.
Stelter, G. (2018). Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/tips_for_a_good_nights_sleep