Our next blog series comes from a different kind of book that challenges us in a different kind of way. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhD, helps us to understand the science behind sleep and recovery and encourages us to take our sleep just as serious as we take our waking hours. Taking on the challenge of improving our sleep quality and quantity can have a tremendous impact in our life satisfaction, our performance, and in our relationships. The final blog of this series will discuss the last six of twelve tips for healthy sleep from the National Institute of Health (NIH).
While napping can be a great way to supplement the amount of sleep we got during the night and also is recommended based on they way humans maximize their rest, it is important to nap earlier rather than later in the day. If you nap after 3pm it will likely influence your ability to fall asleep at night. Another helpful tip is to try and relax before bed instead of jam pack your day all the way up until bed. Reading, listening to music, or meditation are great activities to add into your bedtime routine. You can also take a hot bath before bed, which drops your body temperature after and helps you to feel both relaxed and sleepy.
There are also things you can do to create a healthy sleep environment. Your bedroom should be cool, dark, and gadget-free (including TVs, computers, cell phones which have blue lights that trick our brains to thinking it is daytime). Also having a comfortable mattress, pillow, and blankets will help you to get the sleep you need. If you have a clock, make sure it’s not in your direct line of sight from your bed. That way if you do have trouble falling asleep you are not watching the clock and counting down the minutes. Having the right sun exposure is a great strategy as well since daylight is a regulator of our sleep cycle. Ideally you wake up with the sun or use bright lights in the morning to wake yourself up from sleep. Sleep experts recommend people who struggle to fall asleep get at least an hour of exposure to morning sunlight and then turn down the lights before bed. Finally, it is best not to continue to lie in bed awake. If after 20 minutes of trying to fall asleep you are still awake, get up and do a relaxing activity until you do feel sleepy. Anxiety and worry can make it more challenging to fall asleep, so do what you can to release your stress.
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