Sleeping soundly for at least eight hours a night is heavenly — in fact, getting a good night's rest is one of the best things you can do for yourself healthwise. Unfortunately with our hectic lifestyles, many factors can disrupt sleepy time. Since both quality and quantity are important, here are some simple tips to help you improve your zzz's once and for all!
- No Boozin' Before Bedtime: Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is not a sleep aid. A glass of wine might initially help you drift off, but booze disrupts sleep patterns — especially for women — in the latter half of the night.
- No Late-Night Workouts: Get your last workout in three-four hours before bedtime. Physical activity can promote deeper sleep, but you don't want to work out right before bed as it stimulates the body and may make falling asleep more difficult. If you're having a hard time winding down, try this calming yoga sequence that will help you drift off to sleep.
- No Big Meals Before Bedtime: Try to refrain from eating at least two hours before bed, especially carbs. Your ghrelin (hunger hormone) needs to be high in order to slip into deep sleep, but since carbs lower this hormone, they may prevent you from drifting into dreamland. Not to mention, if your stomach is full or you're digesting a big meal, it's hard to fall asleep, especially if lying down gives you heartburn.
- Tech and Sleep Don't Mix: Keep your laptop, BlackBerry, and other gadgets out of the bedroom. Watching television, checking emails, or reading articles on websites can disrupt sleeping patterns. The artificial light emitted from these devices suppresses the release of the sleep-producing hormone melatonin. Also studies show that texting in bed can cause anxiety. I know, your Twitter updates will have to wait until the morning, sorry.
- DIY Sleep Sanctuary:Make your bedroom your sleep sanctuary by reducing as much noise and light in the room as possible. Even a little bit of light can throw off your sleep cycle — even blue light from a digital clock. If you don't have blackout shades and your room isn't very dark, try wearing a sleep mask. And keep your room at a comfortable temperature — somewhere between 54 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.