Sleep has a major influence over how people, both children and adults, function, think, and perform during the day. When we are really busy, such as during the holidays, we often short-change ourselves on sleep. We can easily recognise when our kids haven’t had enough sleep, through their behaviour. We don’t always recognise the cause of that same crankiness in ourselves!
Here are three tips that will improve your quality of sleep.
Step one: Sleep well
Nothing makes getting up easier than a good night’s sleep! Studies show that most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. To improve the quality of your sleep:
– Establish a routine for bed time that calms you down. Reading, taking a bath, or listening to music can help to “cue” your body that it’s time to slow down. Keep your routine through the weekend, if possible.
– Avoid caffeine, exercise, nicotine, alcohol, and meals during the last few hours before bedtime.
– Exercise regularly (earlier in the day).
– Ensure that your mattress and pillow support you in a comfortable position.
– Sleep in a dark, cool, quiet environment.
Step two: Wake yourself gently
Our body’s natural rhythms operate on a 25-hour cycle – this is a cruel twist of nature that makes us want to sleep a few minutes past the alarm every day! The body uses “zeitgebers”, or cues in the environment, to help you to synchronize to the 24-hour clock. (The word “zeitgeber” is german for “time-giver”.) For example, daylight naturally helps your body to recognize that it’s time to “rise and shine”. Noises in the environment also trigger the body to get ready to roll. Social interaction, temperature, and eating/drinking patterns are also zeitgebers.
Fancy new alarm clocks integrate “zeitgebers” by gradually increasing light and nature sounds in your bedroom a half hour before wake-up time. You could also use a timer to click on the lights in your bedroom before you plan to get up. Try using full-spectrum lights (simulated daylight) to replicate the natural effect of the sun.
Step three: Try again tomorrow!
Some research indicates that napping is good for your health; a short power nap might be a healthy habit. Other studies indicate that napping might make it harder for you to sleep at night. If you regularly nap and you still find it hard to sleep, consider pushing through your regular nap to see if you are better able to drift off at night.
Most changes in sleep habits take time to establish themselves…if you change your routine, give yourself a week or so to adjust, before you decide to abandon your plan!
Sleep plays a part in how we perform at work. If your co-workers are interested in learning more about how to optimize sleep, please contact Carrie for information on our one-hour awareness seminars.
“The bed is a bundle of paradoxes: we go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late.” – Charles Caleb Colton