Many people want to sneak in more sleep, but it can be difficult when your daily schedule is already over-booked.
This article contains helpful advice in re-organizing your day and changing habits that could result in better and longer sleep at night.
Sleep Deprivation Problems
I don’t need to present studies to prove that not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health… We’ve all experienced it first hand.
For example, when I don’t get enough sleep, I tend to go for unhealthy snacks the next day. My body is telling me that it needs more energy, so getting a chocolate bar is a quick energy fix, right?
I’ll get a temporary energy boost that will result in an even lower energy level afterward… Not to mention extra calories that will end up on my hips.
Medically speaking, studies have shown that those who don’t sneak in enough Zs every night are more likely to be overweight. This is caused by a lower amount of leptin in the body, an important hormone that regulates appetite.
Sleep deprivation can also cause increased levels of stress, lower productivity, and decreased immunity against whatever viruses are going around.
We ALL know that getting more sleep (or at least enough sleep) should be part of our daily routine, but how can we incorporate more sleep when our schedule is already packed?
We need to reconsider how we deal with some routine tasks.
Tips to Sneak in More Sleep
We all have nasty habits that prevent us from getting the amount of sleep we need.
By identifying those habits and tweaking things a bit, we should be able to free some time and increase the amount of time we spend sleeping.
- Make use of “wasted time”. We all have occasions where we’re doing nothing (or at least nothing that involves our mind): waiting in line at the store, sitting in traffic, unloading the dishwasher, etc. Make better use of these short time periods by incorporating things you’d need or like to do anyway. For example, you can download an audiobook onto your phone (or MP3 player). Instead of listening to the radio in your car, listen to an audiobook. (Make sure to adhere to any distracted driving regulation in your area.) Waiting in line? Take out your to-do list and plan your next tasks. Unloading the dishwasher? Combine that with quizzing your kids about their school work. Doing so should free up some time and allow you to go to bed a little earlier and sneak in more sleep.
- Reconsider your errands. Errands can suck hours out of a day and you should do your best to minimize how long you spend on those required tasks. For example, could you make some of these purchases online? Could you choose a service provider that is located closer, thereby reducing driving time? Could you combine several nearby errands into one trip? Once again, anything you can do to free up time can allow you to fall asleep earlier.
- Avoid snoozing. We’ve all done it, and some of us do it regularly. The feeling of staying in bed for just a few minutes longer is a great feeling… but think about the quality of sleep you get during those few minutes. By the time you fall back to sleep, the alarm goes off again… The end result is that you’ll feel groggier and will have wasted valuable time. Go to bed earlier, set your alarm for the right time, and get up straight away!
- Avoid caffeine. People react differently to caffeine. Some claim to be able to drink coffee after dinner and still sleep like a baby at night. Most people aren’t that way… You should stop all caffeine intake around mid-afternoon. If you’re not feeling tired by bedtime, you may even consider eliminating all post-breakfast caffeine.
- Avoid naps or reschedule them. If you can avoid naps, it’s best to get all your sleep in one long period, but sometimes we need to nap to make up for unexpected events. If you choose to nap, avoid napping between 4 to 7 p.m. This danger zone is too close to bedtime and will actually cause insomnia at night, creating a catch-22 problem. The ideal time to nap? Right after lunch, and you shouldn’t nap for longer than 20 minutes. If you have trouble staying awake during the day, you may want to change your diet… Fast food can be hard to digest and will make you want to sleep.
- Establish a bedtime routine. Stick to a regular bedtime routine and trick your body into preparing for sleep by performing similar relaxation activities every night. For example, you may want to take a warm shower, put on your pajamas, spray lavender on your pillow and go to bed with a cup of chamomile tea and a good, non-violent book. Avoid electronics during the hour preceding bedtime, which includes watching TV, checking Facebook, reading email, playing video games, etc. Doing so will improve your quality of sleep and will allow you to get more sleep.
- Make your bedroom a sleep haven. Most people sleep better in full darkness, with no noise, no electronics nearby, and on a comfortable bed with clean linen. Examine your bedroom and see if you could improve it. Avoid taking work into the bedroom as your mind will tend to think about work-related issues at night, causing insomnia. Consider re-painting your bedroom in a soothing color.
More Resources About Sleep and Insomnia
Feel free to read the articles below. They contain valuable information on how to get more sleep at night.