14 Ways to Get a Good Night’s Rest for a Healthy Work Week
As critical as sleep is, it can be extremely hard for some people to get it. Whether it’s because they don’t know how to shut their brain off about their busy workday, they have insomnia issues, or they love coffee just a little too much, some people will toss and turn until the wee hours of the night before they enter dreamland.
While not getting enough sleep might not seem like a big issue to some, running on less than seven hours of sleep a night can be detrimental to your brain and cause long-term issues.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, clocking in less than five hours of shut-eye can seriously hamper your thinking and imperil your memory, making you prone to mistakes. In essence, if you don’t recharge properly each night, you are not fully yourself during the day.
Here's your guide for a more pleasant sleep routine.
Cut Off the Caffeine Late in the Afternoon
As much as you want to down that fourth cup of joe, you probably won’t be able to go to bed at a reasonable time.
Drinking caffeine — whether it’s a green tea, coffee, soda — up to three hours before bed is known to alter your sleep quality. Caffeine, especially coffee, takes a while to wear off. Even if we don’t feel the jittery feeling, caffeinated drinks can take a toll.
To help alleviate this, try to have a cut-off point. Don't drink caffeine after 3 p.m. and limit the amount of coffee you drink during the day.
Slowly, your body will get used to this and allow you to go to sleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
Don’t Look at a Screen Two Hours Before Bedtime
While you could binge that second to last episode of "How to Get Away With Murder" or watch your friend’s latest Instagram Story right before you go to bed, ultimately, you want to shut off all electronic devices two hours before you go to sleep so you can avoid a restless night.
Why? Because looking at a screen right before you hit the hay is known to disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm due to the blue light that screens emit. Staring at your screen at night makes your brain believe that it’s still light out and that you should stay alert.
Refrain from Doing Work in Your Bedroom
Just because you have the ability to work from your bed doesn’t mean that you should. When you make your bed your “office,” it can be hard for your brain to differentiate when you should go to sleep or get to work.
To prevent this, make your bedroom a work-free zone. Keep your laptop in the living room, don’t look at emails from your phone while you’re already in bed, and if you do come up with a work idea, have a notebook on your nightstand so you can write it down and go back to sleep.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
It can be hard to get some shut-eye at a certain time each night when your sleep schedule is all over the place.
When you don’t go to bed around the same time, you’re preventing your mind and body to follow its natural circadian rhythm — which, in the long run, can make it harder for you to go back to your normal routine.
To prevent any more damage, go to bed at the exact time every night, no matter how much sleep you’ve gotten the night before, and wake up the exact time the next day.
Your body might resist; however, this strict routine will force your body to go back to its natural rhythm in no time.
Incorporate Exercise into Your Daily Routine
Your exercise routine — if you have one or not — deeply affects your quality of sleep.
You can go to sleep faster and wake up feeling more refreshed if you incorporate as little as 10 minutes of exercise into your everyday schedule (i.e. walking, cycling, etc).
However, try not to exercise right before you go to sleep — doing so can actually do the opposite of what you want and over-stimulate your body and mind. While this is contingent on each individual, it’s better to play it safe at the beginning and opt to do your workout routines in the morning or early afternoon.
Don't Eat Heavy Dinners
Ever crave a carb-filled pasta dish just before bedtime, eat it, and instantly regret it because you randomly got a burst of energy out of nowhere? Well, you can blame that on your metabolism.
When you eat heavy meals right before bedtime, your metabolism wakes up, trying to break down the food that you just put into your body. Ideally, if you want to avoid this, aim to eat two to three hours before you go to bed so your body can properly process the food without disrupting your sleep cycle.
Drink Relaxing Teas Instead of Alcoholic Beverages
While a typical nightcap sounds good every now and then, drinking alcohol can actually mess up your sleep cycle.
According to the Sleep Foundation, alcohol turns on delta and alpha activity brain waves. While delta waves can make you fall asleep quickly, alpha combats this and can make you wake up in the middle of the night.
Plus, drinking alcohol can also block REM sleep. So if you want to drink, try to stop a few hours before you know you’re going to go to bed.
Use Essential Oils in the Bedroom
For centuries, people have used essential oils to combat weird ailments or to alter one’s state of mind in a subtle less abrasive way.
For instance, if you want to sleep better, essential oils like lavender, valerian, roman chamomile, and cedarwood are all known to help you drift off to la la land.
Opt to use these topically or by add a few drops into a diffuser right before you head to bed so you can begin breathing in these oils to diminish anxiety, lower blood pressure, and relieve stress.
Take a Warm Bath
If you’re having an extra difficult time winding down for the night, you may want to stop whatever you’re doing and take a warm, relaxing bath.
While you don’t want to do this activity right before bedtime because a bath raises your body temperature, which makes it extra hard to fall asleep at night, you should take a bath an hour or two before you go to sleep to reap the benefits.
To make your bath extra cozy and relaxing, sprinkle lavender Epsom salts into the water, surround yourself with candles, turn off the lights and listen to soothing music.
Combining all these factors can get your brain in the right frame of mind and allow you to doze off easier once you actually hit the hay.
Dim the Lights a Few Hours Before You Go to Bed
An easy way to trick your brain into believing that it’s bedtime is to minimize the number of lights you have on in your home.
If you’re relaxing in the living room while watching TV, try to turn off the majority of the lights a few hours before bedtime.
Surrounding yourself in darkness will trigger your brain to begin producing melatonin — known as the sleep hormone — and will send a signal to your brain to let it know that it’s time to go to bed
Use Meditative Music to Fall Asleep
Even when all the lights are turned off, you can still have a hard time going to sleep because your brain begins to wonder about everything and anything.
To help sooth your thoughts, try meditative music or a white noise machine to help your brain focus on something less stressful.
These types of noises provide relaxing sounds to help induce sleep and are extra beneficial for people who tend to focus on small noises.
Take Magnesium Instead of Sleeping Pills
While it’s widely accepted to take sleeping pills to help you go to bed faster, they’re actually not that great for your health. Sleeping pills are known to have side effects and are not recommended to use every day.
If you’re looking for an alternative, magnesium might be the kind of pill you’re looking for.
Apparently, insomnia is a symptom of magnesium deficiency and incorporating this supplement into your everyday diet can help you have deeper, longer sleep cycles. All you need to do is take a pill once a day to help get your body back to normal. Of course, make sure to console with your doctor before adding any diagnosing yourself.
Buy a New Mattress
Sometimes the reason why you’re not able to sleep is because you simply just need to buy a new mattress. While these guys can cost you an arm and a leg, it’s imperative to sleep on a mattress that will help you feel comfortable and relaxed.
When you sleep on an old, lumpy mattress, you’re preventing yourself from getting a full night’s rest. When you don’t get enough shut-eye you’re preventing yourself from lowering your stress levels and increasing back pain, which could eventually lead to heart issues.
As much as it might hurt your wallet to buy a new mattress, investing in your sleep is probably one of the best things you could ever do for your health.
Write Your Thoughts Down in a Journal
One of the reasons why you may not be able to fall asleep is because you have too many thoughts running through your head.
Between thinking of your to-do list, that embarrassing thing you told your co-worker, and everything in-between, it can be hard to quiet your mind when you don’t have an outlet to use to turn it off. Journaling, though, can be that outlet you seek.
There’s something about putting a pen to paper that helps decrease cognitive arousal and worry (i.e. going over and over the thoughts in your head). You don’t have to write a full page; simply writing a to-do list will suffice and can help you fall asleep faster.