When you think of becoming more healthy, what crosses your mind?
Maybe you think of cutting out processed foods, limiting your sugar intake, hitting the gym regularly, or drinking more water each day.
While those are all healthy decisions, you may be missing one crucial component to a healthy lifestyle…. high-quality sleep!
While it may go unprioritized to many, sleep plays a major role in our health and well-being. In fact, a consistent sleeping pattern is an intrinsic part of any healthy lifestyle. Without a sufficient, regular sleep schedule, the mind and body can suffer – sometimes permanently if unhealthy habits go unchanged over the long term. To help you boost your health, longevity, and happiness, we’ve compiled five tips to help you start building a regular sleep pattern for yourself!
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute urges you to choose regular bedtimes and wake-up times and stick to them. Your body’s circadian rhythm (our inner clock that tells us when it’s time to sleep) will get used to your routine and expect it. Though we know it can be difficult, try to even abide by this bedtime on the weekends.
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Before going to bed, it’s helpful to do the same pre-bed ritual, too. Brush your teeth, take a bath, read a book, and turn off the lights every night. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep on a nightly basis. Get your body used to the routine by setting a desired sleep time and sticking to it. Even if you wake up early, stay in bed for the full time you set out to sleep. This will help your body acclimate to your new schedule.
WebMD suggests getting in the habit of putting your phone away and turning off your TV about 30 minutes before you plan on falling asleep. The light from the screen tends to interfere with your body’s production of melatonin (the hormone that helps make us drowsy at bedtime) and the content you read or watch will only stimulate your brain and make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Alcohol, caffeine, and heavy, fatty foods are the most common sleep interrupters. Alcohol, while it might actually help you get to sleep faster, interferes drastically with the quality of your rest. Caffeine is a stimulant that keeps you up, and heavy foods can disrupt your sleep cycle and contribute to weight gain. Smoking- while unhealthy for a number of reasons- is another stimulant to avoid before bed. The Huffington Post also advises cutting out liquids a few hours before bedtime to avoid having to get up in the night to use the bathroom.
Office dwellers, listen up: daily aerobic exercise can help you feel tired at night even after a day of limited physical activity. Chances are, after sitting in front of a computer all day, your body still has energy leftover at bedtime. The National Sleep Foundation states that a late afternoon workout is the best for a good night’s sleep. Try to leave, at least, three hours between the end of your exercise routine and your sleep time to give your body ample time to wind down. Exercising right before bed can energize you and end up having an opposite impact.
There are many factors that contribute to making your bedroom the sleep sanctuary you need it to be. Your blinds should be drawn to keep light out. Your sheets, pillows, and mattress should be comfortable and clean, and your room should be free of clutter. Try to figure out another place in your home to create a home office or store exercise equipment as the bedroom should be free of distraction to allow for stress-free nights. And, remember, the temperature of a room is also an important element of your sleep environment. According to Good Housekeeping, the thermostat in your room should be set between 60F and 67F degrees.
Building a regular sleep pattern is a process. Start out by evaluating your current sleeping routine, and take note of where you can make changes. The body is able to adjust quickly to new schedules, so don’t waste time- a healthy sleep pattern could exist in your very near future!
How has a regular sleep schedule helped improve your health and well-being?