The consequences of insufficient sleep go beyond next-day drowsiness. Aside from feeling too tired to workout or too out of it to contribute to an important meeting, lack of sleep can also seriously affect your health. It can lead to weight gain, depression, and it may even shrink your brain. Because sleep is so important, we at Eight are dedicated to helping individuals improve their sleep experience. In addition to purchasing a smart bed, there are several other things you can do to help you sleep.
However, we’re not going to waste your time by listing the obvious “no caffeine before bed” and “power down your phone before lights-out.” Instead, we’re providing new insights and ideas that will make your sleep as restorative as possible.
1. Burn energy
To catch more z’s, you may need to spend more time at the gym. If you habitually have trouble falling asleep, exercise may be your natural remedy. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that older adults who suffered from insomnia were able to sleep 45 to 60 minutes longer per night after exercising for at least 30 minutes three times a week. In addition, exercise triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep. Exercising regularly helps ease stress, anxiety and depression—all problems that can interfere with getting a restful night’s sleep.
2. Block your clock
Do you glance at your clock several times a night? Watching the minutes tick by can stress you out and keep you up at night. A clock serves as a wake signal. Seeing the time heightens your arousal level and dampers your ability to fall asleep. Put your clock out of view or flip over your phone so you don’t have the urge to look at the time.
3. Get some sunlight
Researchers actually found that more natural light exposure during the day resulted in more restful sleep at night. Compared with their colleagues who sat by a window, windowless office workers got 46 fewer minutes of sleep per night. Morning sunlight can also boost your daytime energy and your ability to fall asleep. Exposure to light during the day is one critical way that we affect our sleep-wake cycles. Exposure to light and to darkness drives the circadian system, which in turn helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles over the 24-hour day and night.
4. Stop hitting snooze
You may think that hitting snooze one, two, or five times will help you wake up, but it’s actually doing the exact opposite. When you fall back asleep for a few minutes, you may slip into a new sleep cycle. When you wake again, you’ll feel groggy due to what researchers call sleep inertia, a transitional state between sleep and wakefulness. This impairs things like alertness, memory, and reaction time.
5. Shoot for the moon
Pay attention to the lunar cycles because the moon may impact your sleep. People have long reported that it’s harder to fall asleep or stay asleep during a full moon. Current Biology reported that study participants who slept in a completely dark lab got an average of 20 fewer minutes of sleep per night on the days shortly before or after a full moon. They also showed lower levels of melatonin and 30% less EEG activity, which is associated with deep sleep.
6. Sleep comfortably
Besides sleeping on a comfortable and supportive mattress, you should also consider the position you sleep in. If you sleep on your side, make sure to line your nose up with the center of your body. This will prevent that stiff neck in the morning. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach, because that twists your neck and strains your back.
7. Set your body clock
Going to sleep and waking up at roughly the same time every day, even on weekends, is important for your sleep. This routine will get your brain and body used to a schedule and will help you sync up with the natural day and night rhythms of the planet. When you go to sleep at the same time every night, your body will start to automatically produce melatonin at that time, and therefore help you nod off more easily.
8. Rethink your drink
Even though that glass of red wine before bed may make you sleepy, it won’t help you get a good night’s sleep. Alcohol decreases the amount of REM sleep we get, which is vital for memory and concentration. As the alcohol wears off during the second part of the night, sleep is often disrupted, as people frequently wake up. If you’re still in search of a “nightcap” opt for warm milk or chamomile tea.