Be honest: How many times have you had that extra drink at night or that soda in the afternoon?
Didn’t get that walk in like you said you would? Suffered though a night of pain instead of talking with your doctor to help find a solution?
We’ve all done these things more than we’d like to admit–but hey, what’s the worse that could happen?
You will screw with your sleep, that’s what.
The worse part is that you’ll think this is normal. Like being drunk, you won’t even recognize it until it’s too late.
To help you out, I’m going to share with you 7 things that you can to today to sleep better tonight. I’m going to give you actual sleep data and resources to show you how effective these tips are. And I’m going to encourage you the whole way through.
A little change goes a long way, especially in the sleep department.
Ready? Let’s go.
1. Skip the caffeine. You think you can’t feel it? That you fall asleep just fine at night after that afternoon soda? Think again. Caffeine six hours out was as disruptive or more so than caffeine 3 hours before bedtime–especially compared to no caffeine whatsoever.
Drake C, Kick, A Roth T. The effects of caffeine given 0, 3, or 6 hours before bedtime on objective sleep parameters measured in the home. Sleep 2010;33 (Suppl.):A107. Abstract 0306.
2. Quit Drinking after dinner. There’s a reason why your doc says not to have more than 2 drinks/day. This stuff really screws you up on many levels, and your sleep (like your liver) takes a big hit.
As the the drinks go up, the Deep sleep comes down, The REM takes a beating, ... ...& and Andi@Zeo's ZQ drops by 10 points. Ouch.3. Get Moving. You don’t need to run a marathon, but you can’t just sit there all day and expect yourself to have good sleep. Your body was made for movement–and Deep sleep gets a boost from consistent, moderate exercise.
L-R: Julie's Deep Sleep vs No run, Easy Run, Moderate Run, Long & Hard Run
4. Dim the Lights at Night. Light has the biggest impact on our circadian rhythm–far more so than food or social cues–so do yourself a favor and step away from the TV. If you truly must work after dinner, use a dimmer on your computer or laptop screen to block out blue light, as that type of light can keep you awake longer than yellow light. Use an eyemask to block out unwanted light–and potential wake ups–during the night.
5. Keep cool. Body temperature and room temperature both help us fall asleep, stay asleep, and get more restorative sleep, too. Keep your bedroom between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results.
Rhiannon@Zeo found her Deep Sleep tanked when she was too hot
6. Know your medication. Numerous types of medication, from OTC to doctor prescribed, can have a noticeable affect on your sleep quality. If you are on medication, make sure you talk to your pharmacist or physician about any potential or noticeable side-effects before making any changes. Always take as directed, too.
Kuji@Zeo's Ave Time to Z by Day--No Medication use on Saturday. Tuesday (Day 2 of meds) is the worse day.
7. Respect Chronic Pain, Physical Ailments, and underlying Health Issues. These are not fun in the least, and they’re often a big handicap for good sleep. Sometimes the pain is physical, sometimes it’s mental, but often the two work hand in hand, making it a giant mess. The most important things to do are
- Talk to your doctor about it
- Treat any pain as best as you can to help minimize sleep disruptions
- Practice calming and relaxation techniques to ease your frustrations
- Celebrate your achievements, big or small. Feeling a bit better today than you did yesterday is a real big deal and can be a game changer in the long run.
I really want you to do this. Really, truly. I know that many of you out there have struggled with your sleep and get depressed or discouraged when you compare your sleep to others. Instead of worrying what you’re neighbor got, start looking at what you’ve got–and what makes you feel better.
So, go on. Take this list and mix things up.
See how moderate exercise–that lunchtime walk, for example–compares to a high octane gym session. Don’t try to ignore any pain; instead, work with your doctor to help manage it.
Give yourself a whole week to set yourself up and get a few nights of data, then come back and share it with me. Post it here in the comments section, or up on our Facebook page. I’m really curious to see what you find.