5 Habits of Highly Effective Sleepers
Whether you're talking to a sleep physician or surfing the web, with very little effort you can recognize the importance of getting the right amount of sleep. It's proven that the sweet spot for adults is between seven and nine hours of quality sleep each night. See that special word? Quality. No, seven to nine hours of uncomfortable or restless sleep will not have you waking up each morning feeling rested. Restful sleep is a combination of quality and quantity, and oftentimes, the quality is overlooked.
People who are consistently well-rested have figured out the perfect quality and quantity balance to make them the type of sleepers we all should envy. If you find yourself looking at your well-rested colleague or partner with resentment, here are some habits that you may consider adding to your sleep repertoire so that you too can be an effective sleeper.
Spend Time in the Sun
Natural light is a huge component in organically regulating your body's sleep cycle. Exposure to sunlight during the day helps regulate hormones, body temperature and other factors that help you feel sleepy at night. Whether it's eating lunch or exercising outside during the summer or simply positioning yourself near windows at work, make a conscious effort to get as much sunlight as possible during the day and you will reap the benefits when it's time for bed.
An additional tip is to be sure to power down at night. The light from our cell phones, computers and TVs are proven to stimulate the brain and interfere with quality sleep. We recommend powering off at least 30-minutes before bedtime.
Quality sleep has a lot to do with a healthy lifestyle and exercising is not only linked to an overall healthier life, but can directly improve sleep quality. Research shows that people who exercise sleep better than those who don't. In fact, in a Sleep Medicine Study, insomniacs who worked out for 30-minutes, three days a week slept about an hour longer, woke up less throughout the night and had more daytime energy.
People who benefit from quality sleep have a bedtime routine that they stick to no matter what. Inconsistency wreaks havoc on our bodies. Whether it's taking a bath, brushing your teeth and spending 30-minutes reading or meditation and a cup of chamomile tea, identify what routine works best for you and always try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.
Eating poorly before bed won't just leave you with a stomach ache. According to recent research, saturated fats may also mess with the body's natural sleep cycle. Opt for foods that promote sleep -such as salmon and leafy greens in the evening. While not recommended, if you must indulge in a late-night snack, reach for cherries or other fruit instead of the ice cream or chips. Also, steer clear of the night cap. While many people think alcohol is relaxing, it actually can cause fragmented sleep, which may leave you waking up more tired than you were before going to sleep.
Don't Force It
Thinking about falling sleep can often make it harder to do so. More than that, it actually releases stress hormones. If you're struggling to fall asleep, try thinking about something else: visualize a relaxing scene, listen to soft music or think about the good aspects of your day. You'll be out before you know it.