Sleeping is so much of our lives, almost a whole third of it when you do the math. If we sleep an average 7-8 hours per 24 hour cycle, that’s one-third of the whole day. Some days we get more, some less, but on average that’s nearly one third.
If you’re unaware of what’s passing you by as the world spins during your sleep cycle, does it really make a difference how that third of your life is spent? Oh yes, it does. Sleeping should not be taken lightly or done on such a whim. The foods and drinks you have before bedtime matter; the time you lay down and get back up matter; the things you do in your bed that aren’t sleeping even matter. This is all you need to know to make your sleeping more worth your while.
Don’t nap! You think it’ll be just for 5 minutes, and maybe it will be, but messing up that sleep cycle will make it harder to get to bed later in the day. Being consistent is important for your body. It’s so much easier to wake up without feeling groggy if you’re going to sleep at the same time each night and allowing yourself that time slot to recover.
Have a before-bed routine. How does one get their body accustomed to falling asleep at the same time every night? By making sure you relax. It’s just like clockwork, really, but you have to do it backwards. Think of the time you need to be awake, minus 8 hours from that, and around that time you should start to unwind. Whether it’s reading a book to make your eyes tired or listening to some soft music as you’re getting lunch ready for tomorrow, make sure you’re de-stressing and relaxing.
Keep your sleep space for sleeping. A lot of us do a lot of things in bed. Not just hooking up. But work on our laptops or scrolling through our phones or studying or watching the news. Even scrolling through Insta is a problem. Try to keep those habits out of the sheets. If you’re body and mind are thinking ‘bed means playing around on the internet’ then they won’t want to fall asleep right away when you’re in there. If you have stuff to do, make a list and put it aside for the morning so it’s out of your head, or get it done at your desk, kitchen table, couch, anywhere but your relaxing place.
Watch what you eat. Not only a diet tip but a great way to be ready for bedtime! If you’re so full and you think all you want to do is pass out, go for a walk first. Your body is going to have to digest all that while you’re sleeping which will disrupt the sleep cycle and cause discomfort which will then cause you to wake up. Similar things happen if you’re going to bed hungry; as your stomach grumbles, you will feel it and not sleep as soundly. Caffeine and nicotine stimulate the body so having those close to bedtime is obviously a poor choice. Alcohol may make you think you’re ready for bed, but sleeping drunk really makes for a rough night. And we all know this.
Be active when you’re awake. Make yourself tired! If you use the energy you gained while sleeping, you’ll feel ready to rest up again later. One of the main benefits of sleeping well is feeling awake, of course, so use that to keep yourself in shape. If you can wake up early enough, working out in the morning gives you a great rush of endorphins to kick-start your day. If you’re more of a post-work-workout person, don’t go too close to bedtime because you’ll feel those endorphins and that energy as you try to sleep.
These things are so important to creating a healthy sleep cycle. Some may think that it doesn’t matter when they sleep, or they’ll pull all-nighters in an effort to do work, or they will fall asleep with their work in bed. But this is all hurting the results of your efforts. When you’re sleep deprived your results in all things will suffer. You’ll perform at a lower standard, you’ll have a harder time with memory, you’re grumpy, you’re stressed; these are not fun things. Get your rest and it will benefit you way more in the long run than rushing to get that project done until 4 AM.
Featured image via We Heart it.