Are you getting the recommended six to eight hours of sleep a night? Chances are the answer is no. While sleep is one of the most important factors in how you look, feel, and perform, it’s often overlooked in favor of social activities or late-night catch up from a busy week.
A good night’s sleep can boost brainpower by increasing REM sleep during which your brain works to solve problems by increasing creative thinking, improve performance by positively impacting focus and reaction time, and help you maintain a healthy weight by boosting your metabolism and helping control your appetite. Find out how simple changes to your routine can help you sleep sounder (and reap the benefits) tonight.
- Regulate your routine. Research shows that sleeping from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. is ideal for physical and psychological recovery. A consistent bedtime helps create a routine and regulate sleep patterns. Struggling to go to bed earlier? Turn of electronics, drink tea, and read for a bit.
- Chill out. Before going to bed, set your thermostat between 65 and 72 degrees. Snuggling up in cooler temps has been shown to help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
- Skip your evening cocktail. While a few drinks might make you feel sleepy, you won’t spend enough time in the critical REM sleep cycle, which is about 25 percent of your total sleep each night. This can leave you feeling drowsy in the a.m.
- Work it out. Spending just 30 minutes a day breaking a sweat can help you fall asleep. Just try to fit it in six hours before bed if possible, so your high-energy exercise doesn’t make it hard to fall asleep.
- Cut caffeine. Coffee contains caffeine, which has catecholamines—hormones that increase energy, heart rate, and blood vessel constriction. You don’t have to skip your morning cup of Joe, just cut off caffeine about six hours before bed.
- Take a cat nap. A nap won’t make up for lost sleep at night, but it can help you refocus and make it through your day. Limit your nap to 20 minutes to avoid waking up feeling lethargic.
- Breathe deeply. When you get in bed, breathe in through your nose for six counts, hold for three counts, and then exhale through your nose for six counts, and hold for three counts. Repeat four times. This breathing technique can slow your heart rate and blood pressure and ease stress.