You’ve probably heard it before, but we spend about a third of our life sleeping. Sleeping is the body’s recharge mechanism, giving it a chance to repair its organ’s tissues and allowing your brain to redistribute information in the “long term memory” folder through the help of dreams. This is why it is essential to get a good night sleep in order to boost productivity over the day and keep your organism ticking at maximum efficiency.
We know what you are thinking: when the Sandman comes, any good old couch and pillow does the trick. Not only that, but half a gallon of coffee will most likely give you the added energy you need to function throughout the day. Scientists and doctors everywhere consider this a slow but certain recipe for disaster and if you’ve been juggling this lifestyle for the past 10 years, you probably understand why – long time sleep deprivation leads to depression, obesity, Immunodeficiencies and a lower sex drive.
Today, an 8 hour nightly sleep is a luxury we can’t always afford. But how do we make the best of our nocturnal rest period? Here are 5 tips your local scientist would always vouch for:
1 – It all starts with the bedroom
The bed is where the magic happens. And in this case we mean sleep. Make sure the bed is as comfortable as possible. Ideally, the bedroom should be a “quiet, dark and cool environment”. But sometimes an old lumpy mattress is enough to affect your sleep pattern. If changing the mattress proves to be a difficult proposition, you may consider adding a memory foam mattress topper for a quarter of the price and thrice the comfort value.
Foam mattress toppers offer a much better support for your back while you sleep, alleviating any dull pans you might have across your pressure points. They come in all shapes and sizes, whether you have a single bed or a king size and are made from antiallergic materials, keeping a runny rose from ruining your (or your spouse’s) sleep.
2 – Respect your body’s sleep-wake cycle
It may come hard to believe, but 6 hours of regular sleep per night may be more restful than 8 hours slept at non regular intervals. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This will help optimize the quality of your sleep by setting your body’s internal clock. Basically this will “train” your body to sync all it’s processes for that specific period of time.
If your job or personal life imposed this kind of schedule already, you may have noticed that in less than one week you ended up waking up fully rested before the alarm clock even went off. If you still need the alarm clock, try getting to bed a little earlier in the evening.
3 – Manage food and drink throughout the day
What you eat during the day plays a key role in how well you sleep. It is a good idea to limit your nicotine and caffeine intake. Even if it seems relaxing on the moment, smoking is actually an active stimulant that can affect your sleep.
Big meals before bedtime can spell trouble during the night. If you are a fan of heavy, rech food, try having dinner earlier in the evening. Avoid eating anything two hours before going to bed.
Nightcaps are also a false friend. Alcohol helps you relax and fall asleep but messes up your sleep cycle once you’re out cold. Sugary sweets and carbs such as white bread or pasta will also interfere with your sleep cycle and even if it won’t keep you up, it won’t allow you to slide safely to the deeper stages of sleep such as REM (where dreaming takes place)
4 – Relax your mind through meditation
You probably heard yourself saying “This is what keeps me up at night”. It was most likely a joke, but accumulated stress during the day is real and it’s one of the main causes of sleep apnea. Professionals recommend a set of procedures that proved successful in reducing stress levels; or “curbing the worry habit” as they put it.
Develop an evening ritual that helps your mind unwind before entering sleep mode. Take a warm bath, dim the lights, listen to relaxing music or even nature sounds. Turn off the notifications on your phone and listen to a sleep meditation guide that will help you break away step by step from the stressful stimulants of the outside world and channel your inner peace towards a restful and rewarding sleep.
5 – Embrace a healthy routine
There’s a sweet sweet trap in watching another episode of your favorite show and hitting the snooze button the next morning. The consequences on your health are not immediate, but they are real and long lasting.
You will be surprised to discover how refreshing a little self-discipline can feel. Taking a few preemptive measures for a better night sleep will help you stay positive, feel healthier and be more productive. So don’t forget to upgrade your bed, respect your sleep cycle, manage your consumption and meditate. The effects will follow soon enough.
Stay tuned for more life improvement tips and tricks!