Sleep consumes approximately ⅓ of our lives. But this statistic only holds true if we are getting a full 8-hours of sleep each night. What happens if you don’t get a full night’s rest? How can you improve your sleep without having to take a pill every night?
Adequate, restful sleep allows our bodies to regenerate from a day of work and stress. Mental, physical and emotional stressors wear down our system and a full 8-hours of sleep allows our bodies to heal. Not having enough sleep limits this healing process and can manifest symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue, mood changes, concentration difficulties and chronic pain conditions.
Getting a full night’s rest is easier said than done. Here are some helpful tips to optimize your sleep each night.
Set a routine: Try to go to sleep every night about the same time. Transition your evening so you have at least 30-minutes to have a nighttime routine to prepare yourself for bed.
Sleep hygiene: Only use your bed for sleep. Avoid reading or watching TV while in bed.
Exercise: Daily exercise is not only good for controlling weight, blood pressure and blood sugars but it can also set you up for having a good night’s rest. Try to get your daily exercise in before noon so that you set your circadian rhythm up for success.
Light therapy: Just 20-minutes of indirect sunlight exposure in the morning can help your body settle down by bedtime. In the evening, have your bedroom simulate a tranquil spa environment and avoid bright lights in the evening so that your body knows it’s time to sleep.
Eating: A well-balanced diet has numerous benefits in addition to helping you sleep well at night. Try to avoid too much caffeine, especially in the afternoon/evening, and try to get your last bite of food in a few hours before you go to sleep.
Supplements: Some people have maximized their sleep hygiene and may benefit from supplements to help with sleep. Melatonin and GABA are available without a prescription to use for sleep in a more natural approach as compared to using controlled substances such as Ambien, which can be habit forming.
If lack of sleep or chronic fatigue is a problem you face, talk to your doctor to make sure you do not have any other conditions that may be the cause of your sleep issues.