If waking up to darkened skies really isn’t your cup of tea, your mornings are about to get a bit brighter! This weekend, millions of people will be turning the clocks back one hour, effectively ending daylight saving time. Most of us will probably be welcoming the extra hour of sleep we’ve got coming our way, but the fact of the matter is that many Americans are simply not getting enough sleep regularly.
In fact, sleep deprivation appears to be an epidemic that is only getting worse over time. According to a recent report, “In 1942, less than 8% of the population was trying to survive on six hours or less sleep a night; in 2017, almost one in two people is.” With that lack of sleep comes a wide range of health risks, including increased chance of Alzheimer’s, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, weight gain and a slew of negative mental health effects.
Beyond the potential physical harm, lack of sleep is hurting businesses, as well. Just ask researchers at the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, who concluded that fatigue-related productivity losses could cost companies nearly $2,000 per employee annually! For both our health and the bottom line, it’s time to prioritize rest and become better sleepers. To help you remember some essential sleep best practices, we’ve put together our three R’s needed for regular rest: Routine, Ritual and Restrictions.
Human beings are creatures of habit. Unfortunately, that means while good habits can be taught through repetition, the same can be said for our negative ones. In the case of a sleep cycle, every negative choice we make has a nasty way of leading to more and more negative choices along the way. For example, let’s say you stay up past midnight binging the latest can’t-miss television show (and, who can blame you, really?) This might cause you to wake up later than normal for work, leading to a rushed commute, an exhausting day at the office and a difficult night of sleep ahead as the stress of the day catches up with you.
Break the cycle of subpar sleep by sticking to a routine! Find a regular time that you plan to go to sleep each night (preferably one that gives you at least six solid hours of shut eye) and build your schedule around it. Similarly, set your alarm to wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Overtime, you’ll feel your body become accustomed to the routine and, ultimately, better rested.
Once you’ve made sleep a scheduling priority, it’s time to better prepare your body for sleep. It turns out that just getting home, kicking off your shoes and falling into bed might not be the best way to relax, after all! In fact, sleep experts recommend taking about an hour before your scheduled sleep time to stick to a bedtime ritual.
What does a bedtime ritual entail? It could mean different things to everyone, but some simple steps that can prepare your mind and body for sleep include dimming the lights, turning down the thermostat and turning off any electronic devices that might distract your eyes. Become a better sleeper by preparing ahead of bedtime!
Once you have a routine and a ritual in place for your souped-up slumber, it’s important to keep in mind a few things to avoid as the nighttime closes in. First and foremost, restrict your caffeine in-take as the day stretches on; the later you’re consuming the caffeine, the later you’ll likely be staying up. Similarly, limiting screen time in the evening can help your brain to settle into relaxation mode. While alcohol might seem helpful for knocking you out, it actually increases the chances of tossing and turning through the night, so ditch that last glass of wine. Being mindful of what’s going into your body before bedtime can have a huge effect on the length and quality of your sleep.
As we gain an hour of sleep back, it’s time to make sure every second of shut-eye we receive is quality, recharging both body and mind. By remembering the importance of routine, ritual and restrictions, you might just find yourself feeling better rested and ready to take on the day! Have any other sleepy time tips? We’d love to hear them in the comments!