We know a good night’s sleep is critical for our overall health and well-being. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over a third of adults don’t get enough sleep.
But there’s good news. If you’re stressing about not getting enough sleep, try one of these effortless, Harvard-approved techniques to sleep longer and feel more refreshed.
1. Let the Light In
Light has a huge effect on our circadian rhythm – the internal clock that runs regular intervals between sleepiness and alertness. Exposure to natural light is important in keeping this internal clock ticking on a healthy cycle. If you want to feel more refreshed after a night of sleep, leave the curtain or blinds open a crack to let the rising sun’s light in. It also helps to get outside and spend time under the sun mid-day.
2. Eat Lighter Evening Meals
Going to bed on a full stomach is likely to make it harder to sleep, especially if the food causes indigestion. Of course, hunger can be a sleep distraction as well. It’s all about balance.
Avoid eating anything substantial several hours before bedtime. If your schedule just doesn’t allow that kind of a break, try eating smaller meals throughout the day so you don’t have to go heavy on dinner. You should also balance your fluid intake, drinking enough to keep you hydrated, but not so much that you’ll wake up in the middle of the night.
3. Take Shorter Naps
Napping can be a highly refreshing. Some workplaces even encourage their employees to take a short mid-day nap! However, taking long naps, especially later in the day, can hinder your ability to get a good night’s rest. We don’t think you should cut out napping entirely if it helps you feel good, but you should consider making it brief if you find yourself laying in bed awake at night.
4. Have a Simple, Effortless Nighttime Routine
Having a relaxing evening routine can help ease the transition from wake time to sleep time. However, this can be a daunting prospect for those who have a tight schedule or have difficulty starting new habits.
Worry not – your bedtime routine doesn’t have to involve complicated relaxation exercises, heavy reading, or scented bubble baths. Instead of forcing yourself to engage in something new, build your routine around avoiding stressful, stimulating ones. Stimulating and stressful activities cause your body to produce the stress hormone cortisol, which makes you more alert. Just do something that causes zero stress – whether that’s petting your dog, cleaning the counters, or watching your favourite TV show for the hundredth time. Whatever works!
5. Set the Stage for Hibernation
Where do bears go to hibernate? Caves. Quiet, dark, cool environments promote sound and refreshing slumber. Your bedroom doesn’t need to resemble a den, but it should hit those three big points if you want to get the best, most refreshing sleep possible. Turn down the volume with earplugs or a white noise machine, dim the lights (including the glow of electronics), and turn the thermostat down a few degrees to create a sleep-inducing space.