National Sleep Awareness Week and the switch to daylight savings time both occur in March and are an opportunity for us to stop and think about our sleep habits, realize how much they impact our well-being, and take a step toward improving them.
Do you know how much sleep you should be getting? The National Sleep Foundation suggests that healthy adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and school-age children require 10 – 11 hours.
Being sleep-deprived can affect our everyday well-being. “Good and proper sleep is such an important aspect of our overall health. Poor sleep quality, inadequate sleep time for example, can raise the risk of daytime sleepiness, motor vehicle accidents, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes to name a few,” said Scott Schauss, PA-C, with Intermountain Healthcare’s Sleep Disorder Center.
Improving the amount and quality of your sleep will benefit just about every area of your life. To improve your sleep, it’s important to focus on outside factors that you can control. Instead of getting into bed hoping to fall asleep, it’s best to control your habits around bedtime to ensure a restful night.
Here are six tips on how to get a good night’s rest:
- Plan a sleep routine – It’s important to go to bed around the same time every weeknight. By setting up a routine around your bedtime, this will set the stage for shutting down your brain and falling asleep quickly. The plan should start well before you plan on turning off the lights.
- Create a “shut down” alarm – Because it takes time to unwind when we lay down, it’s helpful to set an alarm to go off 30 to 45 minutes before you want to actually be asleep and begin your bedtime ritual then.
- Create a nightly ritual – Turn off all your electronic screens, write down things you need to do for tomorrow (so you can feel prepared for the next day), get into your pajamas, brush your teeth, wash your face, and drink a glass of water before bed. Whatever you need to do before bedtime, do it in the same order each night.
- Get dark – Humans tend to be sensitive to light. It’s important to try and make your bedroom as dark as possible. You can re-position furniture, purchase dark curtains, and cover up all the little lights on your devices with black electrical tape. If you do keep your cell phone by your bed, place it face down.
- Get quiet – It’s important to make your room as quiet as you can. A bed partner can make this difficult, so consider wearing earplugs or invest in a white noise machine if the person next to you is a heavy breather.
- Get some sun during the day – Exposing yourself to plenty of natural light during the day helps your internal clock distinguish between day and night. At night, the contrast of your dark, quiet room will signal that clock to make you sleep and will help help you fall asleep faster and more easily. Spending as much time as you can outside or in light spaces during the day will help you sleep better during the dark of night.