As with any New Year, resolutions are made and unfortunately often abandoned by this month. However, if you’re one of the nearly 70 million Americans that experiences sleep issues, sticking to a resolution of getting more sleep is just as important as a healthy diet and exercise. Besides feeling groggy throughout the day, poor sleep is associated with negative effects such as weight gain and increased risk of disease. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to overall health; below are some tips to maximize your Z’s each night to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Tip 1: Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps to set your internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. Avoid sleeping in, even on the weekends. If you rely on naps, make sure to make them power naps: limited to 15-30 minutes.
Tip 2: Exercise (preferably during daylight)
Regular exercise is beneficial for your optimal health, but vigorous exercise right before bedtime can interfere with your sleep. Make sure to finish a workout at least three hours before bedtime.
Tip 3: Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
While a glass of wine may seem to relax you, its effects actually interfere with your REM sleep cycle — meaning it may wake you later in the night. And while it may seem obvious to avoid caffeine at night, it can actually cause sleep problems up to ten hours after drinking it. It’s a good idea to stick to a morning cup of coffee and non-caffeinated teas later in the day.
Tip 4: No screen time one hour before bed
It may be tempting to scroll through social media or check email right before you turn off the lights, but it’s best to avoid bright screens (TVs included) at least one hour before bed. The blue light emitted by phones, tablets and TVs is especially disruptive because it reduces hormones like melatonin. Install an app that blocks blue light on your smartphone.
Tip 5: Don’t eat late in the evening
Eating late in the evening can negatively affect your sleep and waistline. Similarly, a heavy dinner can do the same. Try to consume most of your calories at breakfast and lunch, with a light, healthy dinner four hours before bedtime.
Tip 6: Create a nighttime ritual
Whether it be yoga, reading, stretching, taking a relaxing bath or enjoying an herbal tea, creating relaxation techniques before bed may help you fall asleep.