Today, January 3, is National Sleep Day. While many people returned to work for the first time since the New Year, some people got one more day to work on their sleep. I slept until 7:00 am today; my last day of Winter Break. Tomorrow I’m back to being an early riser.
One of my goals for 2011 is be in my room by 10:30 pm and be in bed by 11:00 pm. After I do this for at least 60 days, I plan to move that back by 30 minutes. I’m not sure how many people have going to bed earlier as part of their New Year goals, but I was not doing well with my sleep in 2010.
I get up early to exercise before work: around 4:45 am. After a full day of working and teaching, I would stay up late, sometimes past midnight, to get everything done. This habit is not healthy because like most people, my ideal sleep time is 7-9 hours sleep (research says it varies by person and age).
Have Better Sleep Habits
According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are several things we can do to have better sleep:
- Be Consistent: Have a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Relax: Plan the last hour before bed as relaxation time and wind down in your favorite way: warm bath, music, or a short yoga routine.
- It is a BEDROOM, not an office: Ensure your bedroom is for bedroom activities only (sleep and sex)! This means no laptop, no TV, and turn off your phone.
- Exercise regularly – but not in the 2-3 hours before bedtime. People tend to feel tired and skip exercise, but regular exercise helps with more restful sleep. A friend of mine, who needed sleep medication, stopped using it when she started exercising regularly.
- Stop eating in the evening: Finish eating your evening meal 2-3 hours before bedtime. This isn’t a weight gain issue, but helps with restful sleep. If there is food in your stomach when you go to bed, it may lead to restless sleep.
- Stop consuming caffeine near bedtime. How caffeine affects people varies; some people must stop consuming caffeine by noon, while others could still consume it at 4:00 – 5:00 pm. You know yourself best, so make sure you stop your caffeine intake appropriately.
- Have your nightcap early: As much as many people like having a nightcap, consuming alcohol before bedtime, have yours with your evening meal, or shortly after. While alcohol can help people go to sleep, it is not a restful sleep.
I personally find the first two points the most difficult: the consistent schedule and relaxing the last hour. But this is what I am working on this year.