6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Sleep

In these hectic modern times it often seems as if rest and relaxation have been relegated from necessities to luxuries. The hours we put in at work may be shorter than those of our parents’ but the statistics belie the fact that, with the explosion in connectivity thanks to smart phones, laptops and tablets, we’re operating at a higher level for longer hours than ever before.

We’re connected to the world from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep, and for many people this has led to a serious reduction in sleep. In fact, in just the last decade the average number of hours we sleep each night fell from 7 to 6.5. A century ago we slept for 9 hours each night.

This trend shows no sign of reversing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we all have to live in a constant fog of sleep deprived confusion. Man’s technology continues to work towards improving our sleeping experience. But technology aside, even with the few hours of sleep you manage to snatch each night you still could wake up in the morning feeling rested and ready for the day. Why? Well, simply because there’s a difference between sleep and GOOD sleep.

With just a few small changes to your routine you can make the most of your brief time in bed, giving yourself more energy throughout the day and a whole new outlook on life. Here are just six simple rules to help you get a restful night’s sleep.

Drink in Sunlight

Throughout the day your body produces a chemical compound called melatonin that, among other things, makes you sleepy, and one of the main reasons we need to sleep is to dissipate the melatonin buildup in our bodies.

Melatonin production is inhibited by exposure to sunlight, so if you want to reduce the amount of sleep you need to feel refreshed you should make sure to get at least a solid two hours of exposure to daylight each day. Throw open the curtains; have lunch outside; walk to work instead of driving, and don’t wear sunglasses unless you really need them. Regular artificial light doesn’t inhibit production, so even in a brightly lit room you’ll still be producing melatonin.

Avoid Stimulants

Many people steer clear of caffeine in the evenings, but that may not be enough to ensure restful sleep. The effects of caffeine can persist for up to 12 hours, so if you really want to make the most of your sleep you should avoid coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks any time after lunch.

Smoking also acts as a stimulant, so while that final cigarette before bed may feel relaxing it will also affect the quality of your sleep.

Plan Your Meal Times

Digestion slows at night, and if you eat your evening meal within three hours of bedtime your body will still be working hard to digest it. And while it’s best to avoid eating a heavy meal close to bedtime it’s just as important not to try to sleep on an empty stomach. Peanuts, tuna and turkey make for an excellent late night snack as each of these foods contain tryptophan, which encourages the production of serotonin to help you sleep soundly.

Disconnect

The hours before bedtime should be a period in which your mind and body gently wind down towards sleep, so you should try to limit exposure to anything that will ramp up physical and mental activity. These after all are among the popular causes of chronic sleep deprivation. Exercise should be completed several hours before sleep, and you should do your best to stay away from the Internet, TV and radio as you’re preparing for bed. Any new information will fire up your mind, and you’ll reset the clock on your journey towards sleep.

Buy a New Mattress

Most people who have problems getting a restful night of sleep could benefit from a new high end memory foam mattress and bedding. After five years of regular use, your mattress will have sustained damages at the stress points where your hips and shoulders are supported, and while you probably won’t have sharp springs protruding through the fabric you’ll certainly have lost little yet vital and healthful support.

Today’s modern beds are more advanced than ever, and you’re sure to find one that suits your sleeping position and body type better.

Sleep in Darkness

When it’s finally time to go to bed you need to make sure that your mind understands that you’re entering a ‘no-stimulation’ zone. All lights should be switched off or covered, from the ceiling light to your bedside lamps to the LED readout on your alarm clock to the blinking battery indicator on your laptop. Any source of light can keep your brain active, but in complete darkness your mind will shut down much more quickly and completely.

The most important thing to remember is that the number of hours you sleep isn’t as important as the quality of that sleep. Nine hours of tossing and turning will leave you irritable, foggy and exhausted in the morning, but just six hours of deep, restful sleep will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the day. Make every hour count and you’ll be a happier, healthier person.

 

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About Pepper

I am a single working mom, trying to raise my kid the best way I know how. Join me as I navigate my way through the jungle that is Single Mom-hood, armed with rose-colored glasses and strength of spirit. As pepper adds spice to food, so does my daughter add spice to my life. She makes life no less than…PEPPERRIFIC!

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Comments

  1. Sleep is an important part of health and healthy aging.

  2. Columba Lisa says:

    Thanks for a clear and thorough treatment of this important topic! Lately, I’ve made a new rule in our house. The computers, and all other screens, are turned off for the night at dinner time. The kids don’t see the point, but I see a big improvement in our ability to get to sleep and function the next day.

  3. Kim Reyes says:

    Thanks for reminding me to buy a new mattress. Ours is getting uncomfortable already, which is why I always end up waking up every now and then to look for a comfy position.

  4. Since I am on my last trimester I am deprived from sleeping well and comfortably. Love to sleep in darkness.

  5. now i know :) may pagka insomniac pa naman ako :) hahay si social media kc :)

  6. I think having the right amount of sleep is very important in being healthy and this pointers can really help especially when you have sleeping disorders.

  7. Oh i needed this today, it is 12:43 am and i am still up, nodding out every now and then! Thanks for posting!

  8. Hmmm… Buying a new mattress sounds a good idea. :)

  9. Great post, and I’d have to agree…i think it’s time for a new mattress!

  10. ohemgee. just th article I was looking for. haven’t been sleeping well lately because of stress. been drinking warm milk to no avail. I think will need a new mattress though and will try eating supper much earlier

  11. Good suggestions pepper i would add time too! I just don’t get enough of that either at the mo x

  12. good sleep? what is that??? kidding aside, I definitely agree on this… but in this phase of my mommy life, good sleep is just really something hard to achieve. I’m hoping the phase will end soon as I am soooo ready to be born again LOL

    Spanish Pinay

  13. some wonderful tips ty for sharing–I like sleeping in a pitch black room!!!

  14. i need this in my life. im really stressed at work that I lack sleep now :s

  15. That disconnect time really is important and I’m glad you posted about it. I feel restless if I try to go to sleep before decompressing (which of course I try to do all of the time because things get so busy).

  16. I’d be lucky to have a sleep longer than 6hours but sure indeed is a deep one.

  17. This is what I lack these days, sleep! But all these tips are helpful in getting the much coveted restful sleep.

  18. The quality of sleep does affect the well-being of people. These are very good reminders to get good sleep.

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