Especially in America, sleep hasn’t always had the best reputation. Popular sayings like “You can sleep when you’re dead” lend to the common belief that sleep equals weakness or laziness. Executives often brag about pulling an all-nighter or skimping on sleep to get the job done. However, studies now show that failure to accrue the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night actually lowers individuals’ productivity. Today, more and more people are waking up to the importance of a good night’s sleep. Countless studies show it is good for our health, our moods, and even our finances. But now there is a larger problem…
After years and years of being conditioned to place sleep at the bottom of our priority lists, most of us are out of practice. We’ve acquired what specialists call “poor sleep hygiene,” and we’re in desperate need of a sleep makeover. That’s why we’ve compiled five simple swaps you can make to improve your quality of sleep and thus, your quality of life.
- Swap blackout curtains for morning light. Unless you are a shift worker on odd hours or live on a very bright street, you don’t need blackout curtains and you don’t need to sleep beyond 9 a.m.. Each one of us has a biological clock that dictates our sleep cycle, and light plays a major role in seeing that this clock runs smoothly. Waking with to morning sun, rather than a blacked out room, places us on an ideal schedule for restorative sleep come nightfall.
- Swap television for meditation. Not into meditation? Consider some soothing music, an evening podcast, or even a bubble bath. The point is your bedtime routine of watching an over-stimulating television series or movie isn’t actually helping you fall asleep any faster. By turning the hour prior to bedtime into a soothing nighttime ritual, you can vastly improve your sleep…and your dreams.
- Swap overtime for vacation time. A 2006 study conducted by former NASA scientists concluded that a relaxing vacation improved individuals’ sleep both while they were away and when they returned home. In fact, the study showed the subjects gained an average of 20 minutes more sleep a night and slept more than three times deeper after indulging in a vacay.
- Swap blue light for candlelight. Again with the light. This time we are talking about the blue light that is emitted from your phones, computers, and televisions in particular—it totally throws off your melatonin levels. What’s melatonin, you ask? It’s a natural hormone our bodies produce at bedtime that helps us feel sleepy. When we are under harsh light, especially blue light, we send a signal to our bodies that we are not ready for sleep.
- Swap the alcohol for melatonin. We get it; sometimes, despite all of our efforts, sleep just seems impossible. Many of us will have a cocktail or a few glasses of wine to help us “wind down” and feel a little more drowsy, but while alcohol may help some people fall asleep faster, studies have shown that the sleep you get is not very restful. Alcohol has a number of effects on the brain; as alcohol wears off your body can come out of deep sleep into REM sleep, which is much easier to wake up from. But that’s not the only thing going on, alcohol before bedtime can actually change the normal brain wave activity with an increase in both alpha and delta waves. It’s this dual activity that can result in disrupted sleep, daytime drowsiness, waking up not feeling rested, and symptoms like headaches and irritability the following day. The alternative? Try a natural melatonin based sleep aid such as OneSecond Supplements Daily Sleep Aid. It provides you with a low dose of melatonin to ease you into sleep faster, and it won’t leave you groggy come morning.
What lifestyle changes have you made to improve your sleep?