You’ve probably experienced a sluggish day after a night of poor sleep. Perhaps you felt moody, unproductive, emotional, or even had insatiable food cravings. While lack of quality sleep affects everyone differently, there’s one truth that stands for everyone: We don’t feel our best when we’re tired. And according to sleep experts, getting a good night’s sleep benefits us not only the day after, but in the long term, as well. Good sleep (and enough of it) improves memory, reduces stress, and even helps prevent unwanted signs of aging. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, here are a few tips on how to max your rest so you can feel your best.
1. Create a nighttime ritual. Just as our bodies become programmed to our other daily activities, we can also send certain signals to our bodies that it’s time to wind down. Start by dimming the lights, getting into bed, and picking up a book or magazine. Try to stay off your cell phone and laptop, as your system will typically associate these gadgets with “productive time”—so don’t turn your devices on when you’re trying to shut your body down.
2. Open a window. You’ve probably tossed and turned under paper-thin sheets when your room gets too hot. Studies show that cool air helps us sleep better, so open a window for a cool evening breeze, or turn on a fan to circulate the air in your room.
3. The sound of sleep. Sleep machines that produce “white noise” or sounds of nature can often help our minds slow down and stop recounting our hectic days (or planning for the days ahead). These natural noises have a similar “presence-ing” effect as the old “counting sheep” trick.
4. Make your room a sacred sleeping space. If you reserve your bedroom for sleep, and not for office work or watching TV, you’ll create an environment that’s conducive to relaxing both your mind and your body.
5. Stay on schedule. Fluctuating sleep times are one of the biggest deterrents to helping your body find a rhythm. Try to wake up and get to bed within the same hour every day, even on the weekends. And if the weekends are your cherished days to get some extra z’s (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), find ways to sneak in naps during the day, rather than oversleeping during the night.
Goodnight, and sleep tight!