Would you like to get more and better sleep? What difference would it make? Would you feel more alert? Have more energy? Enjoy life more overall?
According to Mayo Clinic, “Getting at least seven hours of quality rest each night is essential for optimal health.” And, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Not getting enough sleep is linked to numerous chronic diseases and conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.”
If you would like to improve your life and reduce your risks of getting certain chronic diseases and conditions, here are three key strategies for getting more and better sleep.
- Prioritize Physical Activity in Your Daily Life. A good night’s sleep begins during our waking hours. According to a study cited by the National Sleep Foundation, people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. So, if you are struggling to sleep at night, consider getting more physical activity during the day, whether it’s running, walking, or a pick-up game of basketball. It’s up to you. If you are embarking on a more active lifestyle, be sure to check in with a health care provider for guidance on your chosen exercise program.
- Create and Stick to a Sleep Schedule. Why a sleep schedule? Because a consistent sleep schedule helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle by sending your body very clear signals about when it’s time to wake and when it’s time to sleep. Does this mean you have to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning? Not exactly. You should, however, be as consistent as possible, going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time each day. Mayo Clinic recommends that you not vary your bedtime by more than an hour or so on the days you stay up late.
- Create an Enjoyable and Relaxing Wind Down Routine. Many sleep experts strongly recommend switching electronics off 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. Studies show that even our small electronic devices emit enough light to confuse the brain into thinking it’s time to be awake. So switch those devices off, and give yourself a nighttime routine to look forward to that has nothing to do with electronics.
What sounds good to you? Making time for a relaxing guided meditation, maybe a sleep meditation by The Mindful Movement? Soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salts? Crawling into bed early with a captivating novel? Or, perhaps all three? Have fun experimenting with the possibilities to see what works best for you when it comes to winding down for a goodnight’s sleep.
If you would like more information and support for getting more and better sleep, visit mayoclinic.org or CDC.gov. Also, consider reading The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington. Huffington’s book provides a sweeping, scientifically rigorous, and deeply personal exploration of sleep. She also makes a compelling case for renewing your relationship with sleep so you can live life to the fullest.
As you think about getting more and better sleep, where would you like to begin, what change would you like to make first? Consider the possibilities. Choose the smallest possible action you can take that would make a difference. And make it happen. And then, over time, one change at a time, create the habits you need to wake up feeling well-rested on a regular basis.