Sleep is wonderful. The lucky among us know the pure bliss of a Saturday morning spent sleeping late, cozy and nestled deep in a comfy bed.
However, sleep is also important for our health. Our bodies contain between 75 to 100 trillion cells, most of which require sleep to carry out repair processes in our muscles, skin, and other tissues. Sleep influences nearly every human biological function in some way.
Without sleep, we may be more prone to illness and even to accidents. The New York Times writes that with less than six hours of sleep, a person is at greater risk for drowsy driving. Since the average American motorist spends 50.6 minutes driving daily, lack of sleep creates ample opportunity for dangerous accidents every day.
Despite the obvious importance of a good night’s rest, too many individuals go without. If you frequently feel groggy or have trouble staying awake during everyday tasks, you may be lacking in sleep quantity or sleep quality. To get better rest, and to stay asleep longer, try the following four tips and tricks:
1. Control the Temperature of Your Sleep Environment
Though every person prefers a slightly different bedroom temperature, most find 65 degrees Fahrenheit to be the ideal sleep environment. Try to keep the temperature cozy but cool, and consistent throughout the night. Add a ceiling fan or air conditioner for more comfortable summer snoozing. Fixing a drafty window might help your wintertime rest, and it can even cut your energy bills by 10 to 25%. If big renovations aren’t an option, try investing in seasonal bedding, or wearing socks to bed to keep your extremities warm.
2. Limit Evening Light and Screen Exposure
More and more, scientists are beginning to understand the relationship between our bodies and the amount of time we now spend using screens. From doing company work on a laptop to scrolling social media on a phone, staring at a lit screen for many hours a day can hinder your sleep. Our brains mistake the light from the screen for sunlight and trigger an energy response in our bodies to help us get stuff done. To avoid this energy before bed, try setting an earlier time to put away the phone or computer each night. You’ll likely feel more restful and fall asleep faster.
3. Stick to A Schedule
Though the night owls among us relish staying up past bedtime on Fridays and sleeping through noon on Saturday, studies suggest this habit can hinder sleep quality throughout the week. Changing your bedtime and wake-up time alters your body clock much like long-distance travel. Perhaps that’s why Monday mornings seem so awful. To fall asleep faster and feel more alert when you wake up, try to go to bed at about the same time each night. On weekends, skip sleeping late, and treat yourself to a short early-afternoon nap instead.
4. Write To-Do Lists Before Bedtime
Finally, many people find trouble calming worried thoughts after a long workday. If you’re plagued by stressful ideas that rob you of sleep, take steps to clear your mind before laying down for the night. Try writing a to-do list for the next morning, so that you know you’ve already planned for a successful day. Take a moment to reflect on the previous day, and jot down any ideas that come to mind. Processing the day’s events on paper will keep them from nagging you when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Sleep is important and wonderful, but it can be hard to come by. For more restful nights and more alert days, try any of these tips for sleep improvement. Your health, happiness, and safety might depend on it!