Sleep is a tricky thing these days, particularly if our goal is adequate (in terms of time), healthy (in terms of quality) and rejuvenating (in terms of whether you wake up ready to take on the world – or ready to go back to bed again). The unfortunate reality is that as a culture, we're experiencing poorer sleep overall and suffering the short- and long-term health consequences.
What can we do about it? There's a science to good sleep we can rely on to ensure we awaken well-rested after an uninterrupted night's sleep. Here are three to help motivate you to get the ZZZZs you need.
1. Embrace the Darkness: Can't get to sleep or find yourself waking up frequently during the night? Maybe your room isn't dark enough. Beyond the fact that our eyes are sensitive to light and will be disturbed by too much light, our body's sleep-wake cycle is based on adequate darkness. The Solution: Turn off all lights and the TV at least 15 minutes before settling in for the night. Use curtains on all windows and avoid a nightlight if at all possible.
2. Technology Is a Turnoff (and Needs to Be Turned Off): We've become accustomed to lounging in bed for hours, watching TV or trolling the Internet with our laptops, tablets or cellphones. All that does is keep your brain on high alert, rather than settling it down for a relaxing night's sleep. The Solution: Make your bedroom a place of peace and tranquility, not a computer lab / video arcade. Do you even need a television in the bedroom when you've got multiple TVs throughout your home? Prepare for sleep the right way – the technology-free way.
3. Drink All Day (But Not at Night): Your body needs water, and if you exercise, you need even more. But drink too much / too close to bedtime, particularly as you age, and you'll find your sleep interrupted multiple times for groggy trips to the bathroom.
The Solution: Try not to drink liquids after 6-7 p.m. whenever possible. Throughout the day, go to the bathroom when the urge strikes to help keep your bladder empty (and avoid bladder infections).
You deserve a good night's sleep, so why are you making it so difficult to achieve? Take these tips to heart and talk to your doctor about other easy ways to kick the sheep to the curb and sleep soundly – tonight and every night.