Face it, you probably need more sleep. You know this already, because we all need more sleep. We all try to fit in as much work and play into each day as possible—the result of which is a small amount of shut-eye followed by a big dose of caffeine in the morning. But this doesn't make us more ambitious, strong or successful. It's actually quite the opposite. Studies have found a clear link between a lack of sleep and depression, weight gain and decreased decision making skills. It's clear you should be sleeping better. Here's how to make the most out of your time in bed.
When you eat is probably more important than what you eat when it comes to quality sleep. Chow down too late or indulge in a midnight snack session and your body will be using energy for digesting instead of getting into a restful sate.
Resist the Nightcap
While a few stiff drinks might help you get to sleep, it prevents you from reaching the deep, beneficial kind of sleep known as REM. Give yourself some time between your last cocktail and hitting the hay.
Limit Screen Time
Set an alarm 45 minutes before your bedtime as a reminder to wind down and turn off all electronics. If watching TV helps you relax, then do so with the lights dimmed but stay off interactive electronics like computers, tablets and phones. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people who text or check social media before bed were less likely to get a good night's sleep and more likely to wake up tired.
Meditate (or Just Hum)
Meditation is a great way to prep for restful sleep. But if that's not your thing, or you just want a quick way to relax, then hum while you're getting ready for bed. Simply repeating "hummmm" for five to ten minutes will relax your nervous system and release a natural dose of calming serotonin. Seriously, it works.
Don't Sleep In
Unfortunately, you can't "catch up" on sleep on the weekends. It feels good at the time, but the result will mean staying up later and days of being tired. It's the time we wake up (not our bedtime) that sets our sleep-wake cycle, so keep a consistent wake time, even on weekends. If you're still tired, then take an afternoon nap.
Pills Aren't the Answer
Over-the-counter sleep aids aren't intensely regulated by the FDA, leaving questions about side effects and safety. Dr. Amit Patel, a sleep specialist at Privia Medical Group, recommends a more natural approach. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by our bodies to regulate our circadian rhythms and melatonin supplements can help gently induce sleepiness.