As children, we are taught that we need at least 8 hours of sleep. But as we get older, it feels harder and harder to get those 8 hours of unbroken sleep. Most adults get 6 hours or less of sleep. Those who work in stressful positions or multiple jobs get even less.
However, that doesn’t mean we should just give up. It is really important to get good sleep. People who sleep for the recommended time get a lot of health and mental benefits. As they say, health is wealth. Don’t sacrifice your sleep for material gains.
Good sleep keeps your body fitter and prevents weight gain. It reduces the odds of getting heart diseases, diabetes, inflammation, etc. Finally, it helps prevent depression and keeps your mental abilities sharp and focused.
Unfortunately, good sleep is a lot rarer these days. But it is not impossible. I will tell you all about how you can create a better sleeping habit and guide you towards a healthier lifestyle.
Our daily lives revolve around schedules. Most of us go to school or work at a preset time. We also have meals at roughly the same time on most days. But there’s one thing a lot of people forget about. It’s a consistent time to go to sleep at
Think about how many times did you decide to stay up an hour late watching TV or playing video games? How many times did you decide to just sleep in on a weekend or holiday instead of getting up at the usual time?
Each time you do this, your sleep schedule gets disrupted. With such an inconsistent schedule, your body does not know when to ‘shut down’. Even if you are lying in bed, the body might not be ready to sleep yet.
A regular sleep schedule is the best way to get better sleeping habits. Always go to sleep at the same time, and wake up at the same time. Even during the weekend and on vacations, try to wake up and sleep at the same time.
I also combine my bedtime with consistent bedtime rituals every night. The bedtime rituals such as brushing my teeth or some light stretching also tells my body that it is nearly time to sleep.
Avoid Long Naps During the Day
Our bodies are great at falling asleep when we are tired or have been missing sleep recently. But the opposite is also true. If you took a long nap (three or four hours), then you have already covered half the sleep you need for the day.
Since your mind and body already feel well-rested, you don’t feel the need to go to sleep again so soon.
Of course, you could just go to sleep a few hours later than usual. But as I just explained, it will mess up your sleep schedule even more. When I nap during the day, I keep it under one or two hours. That is enough to get some shut-eye without wrecking the sleep schedule.
Make a Habit of Exercising
Exercising is something everyone ought to do. If you already exercise regularly, you can probably jump to the next part.
Back in the old days, everyone did a lot of physical labor. That is basically how our bodies evolved. So, what happens if you don’t work out your body? At the end of the day, your mind is tired and wants to go to sleep. But your body is still rested and capable of working.
The desync between the two can mess up your ability to go to sleep. That is why people with an active lifestyle have a better sleeping habit. When they go to bed, their minds and bodies are equally tired and ready for a break.
Of course, it is not necessary to exhaust yourself exercising. You simply need to get rid of some extra energy. My bedtime routine involves some stretches and light exercise before bed. It burns off any energy I have left and gets my body ready to sleep.
Avoid Chemicals that Mess with Sleep!
Unfortunately, our lives are full of so many chemicals and drugs. If you step out on the street, you will probably see someone smoking. You probably have some beer in your fridge right now. If it was a busy day at work, you might have had a few cups of coffee to keep you going.
Did you know all these chemicals and drugs are terrible for your sleep?
Alcohol is a depressant that makes you sleepy at first. But when it wears off, you will suddenly start waking up. It disrupts sleeps and many people have nightmares due to it!
Nicotine and Caffeine are on the other end of the scale. They are stimulants that force your body to stay awake. When the natural rhythm of the body is disrupted like this, it becomes even harder to go to sleep.
I suggest you avoid drinking alcohol in the evenings. It takes up to 6 hours for the effects to wear off, so that should be the gap between drinking and your bedtime. The effects of caffeine last even longer. To build a better sleeping habit, stick to just one cup of coffee in the morning.
Don’t Stay Glued to the Screens
Nowadays, we are glued to phones, computers and tablets 24/7. All our electronics are responsible for many sleep problems.
Our body has a natural rhythm, called the circadian rhythm. This rhythm is controlled by hormones that tell us when to feel sleepy and when to stay awake. The blue light given off by electronic screens blocks these hormones and prevents us from feeling sleepy.
A lot of people have a bad habit of taking their phone or tablet to bed. When they don’t feel sleepy, they start scrolling on it. This is the worst thing you could possibly do for going to sleep! Personally, I read a paper book when I want something to keep myself occupied in bed.
Make the Bedroom a Place Exclusively for Sleeping
Do you have a home office where you work? Or a desk in your room that you use to study? If you do, then you know the power of having a place where you can focus on one thing. I myself have a small corner where I work.
Having a specific place like this helps us get into the proper mindset. Going to sleep works in just the same way. Make your bed or bedroom a place for sleeping exclusively. Then you will find that you are getting better and more restful sleep than before.
Taking work to the bed is a huge no-no! The moment you start doing that, you will find that your mind is full of worries about finishing work before sleeping. It is the same idea as taking a phone to bed.
Don’t Build up Sleep Debt
The recommended amount to sleep every night is 8 hours. Suppose you sleep about an hour less every night. This amount builds up quickly and is called ‘Sleep Debt’.
The more sleep debt you build up, the worse it gets. You will have more and more trouble focusing. You may also be at a higher risk of various medical conditions or weight gain.
To avoid sleep debt, you should try to catch up on any missed sleep whenever you can. Whenever I missed some sleep at night, I made sure to catch up on it as soon as possible. I always set aside time for a short daytime nap, or went to bed a little bit earlier the next day.
Sleep makes up about a third of our lives. It is so important for staying alive and functional. It is actually quite easy to ensure better sleeping habits. Despite that, most of us neglect it and suffer for it.
If you take my advice to heart and get a better sleeping habit, the benefits will be obvious immediately. You will be able to work better and faster. Your mind will be more focused on work. You won’t suddenly feel tired and sleepy in the middle of the day. You will enjoy a longer life expectancy.
I use all these techniques to help me sleep better. It has made my life so much better. It could make your life a lot better too!