Content provided by the Health & Wellness Team at GBS Benefits
Tired of bad sleep habits? One in three Americans report not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Sleep is an important pillar of good health. It strengthens your immune system and enhances memory, concentration, and decision-making skills. Not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night can contribute to a host of health problems, from high blood pressure to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Hard as we may try, a bad night’s sleep is bound to happen. How do we recover and make sure to sleep better the following night? Recognizing signs of poor sleep hygiene is the first step towards a good night’s sleep. Common symptoms include irritability, difficulty falling asleep, frequent sleep disruptions, daytime sleepiness and fatigue, and lack of consistency in sleep amount and quality.
Reimagine the way you sleep with the following tips, and you’ll feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and won’t need those impromptu naps in front of the computer.
Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
Get some sun. This helps your body set its internal clock. It can also counter sleeplessness by helping improve your mood.
Exercise at the right time. Exercise can improve sleep and help you fall asleep more quickly. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime as it can stimulate endorphins (hormones that make you more alert).
Nap in moderation. A twenty-minute nap can sharpen your attention and motor skills. Naps between thirty and ninety minutes can leave you feeling groggy. Take a nap, but don’t forget to set an alarm.
Eat light and early. Eating a light meal with proper nutrients provides the brain with the chemical environment it needs to produce neurotransmitters that help maintain adequate sleep.
Take breaks. After a poor night’s sleep, it may be harder than normal to keep focused. Go outdoors for a short walk, take a brief nap, or exercise to give your mind time to rejuvenate.
Create a relaxation routine. A predictable routine helps prepare your body and mind for bed. It helps your brain recognize when it’s time to sleep.
Relax your mind. Start to relax as bedtime approaches. Try to avoid bedtime worrying – instead focus on creating a mental gratitude list, picturing a happy memory, or meditating.
Hydrate. Drinking enough fluids during the day prevents waking up thirsty in the middle of the night.
Don’t hit the snooze button. Most people need an extra hour of sleep to really make a difference. Hitting the snooze button can lead to ongoing drowsiness.
Don’t sleep in. It may be tempting to take the morning off and sleep in, but this confuses your body’s internal clock. It’s best to stick to a routine and wake up at the same time each day even if you didn’t sleep well.
Don’t smoke. Smoking is bad for your health in general, and tobacco is a stimulant that can prevent good sleep quality.
Don’t use electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light emitted by a smartphone, computer, or tablet can stimulate the brain, making it difficult to wind down before bed. These devices also provide a distraction that further delays sleep.
Scientists believe dreaming helps build memory, assists with information recall, aids in emotion processing, and acts as a mental housekeeper clearing away unnecessary information. Connect with your dreams by implementing five of the above tips for a good night’s sleep.