We all know how beneficial routine and restful sleep is. Good sleep is essential for physical and emotional health. However, life happens, and too often than we'd like to admit we all wake up some mornings without getting a good night's sleep. Queue tiredness, grumpiness, and feeling like a space cadet.
What causes lack of sleep?
There are many reasons why you might not get a good night's sleep. Stress, anxiety, noise, light, and irregular schedules are some of the most common.
Sleep deprivation is sometimes a decision we make. For example, staying up late to watch your favorite show or scrolling through Instagram. Social media usage has exacerbated the situation. According to a study done by National Geographic, people now sleep for an average of six and a half hours each night, down from eight hours in 1960. Blue light emitted from electronic screens suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Even if you're not using your phone or computer in the hours leading up to bedtime, the light from streetlights and other sources can keep you awake.
But oftentimes lack of sleep is due to outside influences that are beyond our control. When this is the case, there are still things you can do to make up for lost sleep and feel more rested.
Here are 6 tips for when you don't get a good night's rest.
Don't hit the snooze.
When you wake up groggy after a poor night's sleep, the temptation can be strong to hit the snooze button over and over. But doing so will only make you more tired. Get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off and try to get some fresh air. Open the windows or go for a quick walk.
A moderate workout can help to energize your body and release endorphins, which promote feelings of happiness and well-being. Don't skip your morning workout if you can help it. If you don't have time for a full workout, even 10 minutes of some gentle yoga or stretching will help to loosen up your body and give you the boost you need.
Get up and move around as much as possible throughout the day. Even a little bit of movement can help to increase energy levels.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so don't skip it! Eating a balanced breakfast gives your body the energy it needs. Eat hydrating foods such as fruits and vegetables to help you feel more alert.
Drinking a cup of coffee might be instinctual, but the key to having caffeine work to your advantage is to consume in moderation. Doing so can help you feel more alert, but overdoing it on caffeinated beverages can make you feel jittery and anxious, not to mention dehydrate you. Avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages too close to bedtime as they can inhibit your ability to fall asleep.
Using caffeine in other ways can also boost your energy and leave you feeling less sickly. Try a caffeine eye cream to depuff your eyes and increase circulation.
A cluttered space can lead to a cluttered mind, so take some time to organize your work area, bedroom, and everything in between. Having an ordered environment will help you feel calmer and in control.
Take a nap
A 20-minute power nap can help rejuvenate your body and mind. Don't think you're a napper? Start by setting a 30-minute alarm. Lay with your eyes closed. Practice box breathing and see what happens to your exhausted body as you start to relax. Even if you're unable to fall asleep, meditation and relaxation can help to calm the mind and body to reduce stress.
Don't over nap. Sleeping for too long in the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night and leave you feeling even more groggy. Limit your nap to 30 minutes or less.
If you're having trouble sleeping, there are things you can do to help remedy the situation:
Establish a regular routine.
Routines are proven to help the body fall asleep and stay asleep. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Establish a little self-care at the end of the evening. A relaxing routine before bed can help your body prepare for sleep. Put on a mask or take a bath. Consider reading, meditating, or using aromatherapy to relax your mind and body.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
Caffeine and alcohol are stimulants and can keep you awake longer. Avoid drinking coffee, tea, energy drinks, and alcohol within six hours of bedtime. If you're looking to replace your nightcap, try chamomile or lavender tea instead.
Limit screen time before bed.
The blue light from screens can make it harder for your body to decompress and stay asleep. Try reading instead or doing a guided meditation before bed.
Regular exercise is crucial for mental and physical health. It helps improve sleep quality and duration. Physical activity has a direct correlation to deep sleep.
Set the mood for a good night's sleep
A cool room (around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit) and dark room help the body fall asleep and stay asleep. Your body needs darkness and quiet to fall asleep. Make sure your room is dark by using blackout curtains. Create a cozy bed with comfortable layers, the right pillow for your sleep position and clean linens.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet is important for overall health, including sleep quality. Eating late at night can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bedtime. Consume foods that are rich in magnesium such as nuts, bananas, and dark leafy greens.
All in all, every one of us should place more importance on sleep hygiene. Even if we're doing our best to get a good night's sleep, sometimes life gets in the way. But by following these tips, we can make it a little bit easier on ourselves when sleep doesn't come easy.
If you are practicing proper sleep hygiene and still have a difficult time sleeping through the night you may have a sleeping disorder. Do NOT avoid going to see your primary care physician or a certified sleep doctor to try to uncover any sleep disorders that need to be diagnosed and treated.
If you're an Alaskan experiencing difficulty with maintaining quality sleep, contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic and receive a free 10-minute phone call with a sleep educator. In this phone call we can help determine if a sleep study at one of our 4 Alaskan locations may be appropriate in diagnosing and treating your condition. Don't let poor sleep get in the way of you and success at work and your personal life, contact us today.