By: Jennifer Lifford
Most of us know that we should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night. We understand how important sleep is for our physical and mental wellbeing. Despite this, many of us are not getting enough of those precious hours and instead walk around in a constantly sleep-deprived state. While some people may suffer from sleep disorders or other medical conditions that affect sleep, there are many offenders that can lead to poor sleep:
1. The Need For “Me Time”
All too often it seems that the only time that we have to ourselves is late at night after the kids are asleep and the house is tidied. Instead of going to bed and getting a good night’s sleep, we use this time to catch up on television shows, surf the Internet or pursue other hobbies. To break this habit, schedule time for yourself during the day so you do not feel the need to skip sleep — grab a babysitter for an hour, find a friend who can swap childcare duties or put the kids to bed a little earlier.
2. Leaving Tasks Not Prioritized
There are often more items on the to-do list than we actually have time to do. Be sure to tackle the most important tasks first thing in the morning so you don’t stay up late to get them done. Learn to say “no” to those tasks that are not essential. Writing down a list of items that need to be done the next day will also help to clear your mind before bedtime.
3. High Anxiety Or Stress Levels
Many people have difficulty letting go of problems and stresses they encounter throughout the day, which can easily interfere with sleep patterns. Start by creating a relaxing and calming bedtime routine: It may include a warm bath, reading or listening to music or audiobooks. Try writing down your thoughts in a journal to help calm your mind and settle the day’s emotions. When it is time for sleep, focus on taking slow, deep breaths.
4. Poor Sleep Environment
Ideally, your room should be completely dark, cool and quiet. All electronic devices should be turned off — even the light emitted from alarm clocks is enough to disrupt sleep. Use heavy curtains to block out any outdoor light or wear a sleep mask to cover your eyes. The temperature of your room is also an important consideration.
5. Too Much Screen Time Close to Bed
Light emitted from television sets, computer screens and even backlit e-readers or tablets suppresses melatonin production and can lead to tossing and turning. In addition, these screen-facing activities can often be stimulating rather than relaxing. Try recording favourite television shows and watch them earlier in the evening, and avoid electronic devices for at least one hour before bedtime.
6. Irregular Sleep and Wake Cycles
It’s easier said than done, but aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Adhering to a schedule will make you feel more energized and refreshed than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times. If you are trying to get used to an earlier bedtime, move it up by 10-15 minutes per day until you reach your ideal time. And as tempting as it can be, avoid sleeping in on weekends.
7. Poor Eating Habits
Stop eating at least three hours before bedtime and avoid stimulants such as caffeine in the later afternoon and evening. If you must have a bedtime snack, keep it small and stick with food that is easy to digest such as toast or small bowl of cereal. You should also try to limit liquids before bed to avoid midnight trips to the bathroom.
Although it could be a combination of any of the seven things mentioned above, doing your best to get the best sleep you can is important to being functional — not just physically, but mentally, too!
Jennifer is the author of the creative blog, Clean & Scentsible, where she shares her passion for organizing, crafting and home décor. She is a mom of two boys and enjoys coming up with fun activities to celebrate the holidays and everyday life with her family.