A good night’s sleep is essential for our health and well-being. Yet, many of us struggle to get the recommended number of hours of shut-eye each night. If you’re among them, following these 10 sleep commandments will help.
1. Thou Shalt Not Use Thy Bed for Technology-Based Work or Play
The mind and body need time to recuperate. The Sleep Foundation shows the benefits of a technology-free bedroom.
2. Thou Shalt Not Drink Caffeine 6 Hours Before Bedtime
Caffeine can have a big impact on how well you sleep at night, so it’s important to find the right time to stop your intake. Recent data suggest that stopping up to six hours before bedtime is best. You may have to do some trial and error to determine the stopping time that works best for you, but it’s worth it to get a good night’s sleep.
3. Thou Shalt Go to Bed and Get Up at the Same Time Every Day
Keeping a regular routine is essential for sleep duration and quality. You can’t make up for lost sleep by getting up later the next day, and if you “sleep in” on weekends, you set yourself up for not sleeping the following day. For optimal sleep and health, as much as possible, go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
4. Thou Shalt Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life and lose track of your bedtime rituals. Yet, a good bedtime routine can help you unwind and fall asleep quickly and easily. Decide on a set bedtime, switch off your computer and/or phone, take a bath or shower, listen to music, do meditation or whatever soothing activity works for you.
5. Thou Shalt Exercise Regularly, But Right Before Bed May Disturb Sleep
Exercise is good for you, but whether or not working out before bedtime affects your sleep is a matter of debate. If you enjoy exercising at night, do so and see whether it’s easier or more difficult for you to fall asleep. If it’s more difficult, try exercising earlier.
6. Thou Shalt Block Out Distracting Noise and Lights
Devices like smartphones, TVs, and even the light from a street lamp can make it difficult to fall asleep. Switch off these devices, close blinds or curtains over the windows, and if it’s not possible to shut out noise, try a white noise machine or earplugs to reduce the unwanted sounds of the street or neighbors.
7. Thou Shalt Avoid Eating Heavy, Spicy Or Sugary Foods Before Bed
Eating foods that may be difficult for you to digest can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep. While there are no set rules on what you can or cannot eat before bed, trial and error will let you know what works for you. Here are some foods worth trying.
8. Thou Shalt Use Comfortable Bedding
When it comes to sleep, comfort is key. Although you will find articles recommending certain types or brands of mattresses, pillows, blankets and the like, comfort mainly comes down to personal preference. There are no peer-reviewed studies showing one type is better than another. If you wake up with a back or neck ache, consider changing your mattress or pillows. When shopping for a new mattress, be sure to try it out in the store or risk making an expensive mistake.
9. Thou Shalt Not Nap Too Often
Napping during the day can help you relax, lessen fatigue, improve your mood and increase alertness. However, don’t overdo it. A short nap (up to about half an hour) probably won’t affect your nighttime sleep – but long or frequent naps might. An early-afternoon nap (before 3 pm) is less likely to interfere with nighttime sleep. Be aware that a sudden increased need for naps may indicate a reaction to a medication or an underlying health problem.
10. Thou Shalt Not Drink Alcohol Before Bedtime
Alcohol is a sedative and may help you feel sleepy. But the way it is processed by the body as the effect wears off can actually cause sleep problems, including fragmented sleep or insomnia. What’s more, alcohol can disrupt your normal sleep patterns, triggering vivid dreams, nightmares and parasomnias. Furthermore, recovering from alcohol consumed before bedtime can lead to grogginess or even oversleeping the next day.
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