All too often when we think about living a healthier and happier life we focus on our diet and activities, many of use don’t even consider the third piece of the puzzle, which is sleep. If you want to eat better and make the best use of your day you must have a good sleep foundation. I am someone who has gone through a fair amount of my adult life with insomnia and sleep issues. These are a few habits that I had to break to start sleeping well.
Stop staying up late trying to be more productive.
I used to pride myself on the fact that I could work all night on a college paper and then sleep for two restless hours before getting up and starting another day filled with work. When you get into a cycle like this you think and feel like you are being extra productive, but the truth is that lack of sleep is going to catch up to you. The more days in a row you go without a good nights sleep the more you will pay for it with your health and energy level.
Get out of bed when you wake-up
It can be tempting to sleep in and lay in bed longer on a weekend, but you will feel more energized if you don’t linger too long after you wake up. Sleeping in on certain days will also interrupt your bodies natural sleep patterns. Make sure you stick with a normal bedtime and wake time to avoid insomnia and fatigue when your body is confused.
Eating Meals and Sugar too late
I think I have been in the habit of giving myself a “bedtime snack” since I was a kid. It is a pattern that I developed young to eat something before bed, and usually that was something sweet. Eating sugar before you go to sleep may release chemicals that cause you to wake more during the night. Also try to eat dinner at least three hours before you go to bed. The fact is that you body was not made to digest food while it is trying to rest.
No Naps Allowed!!
I used to be very strict with myself and never even think about napping. But the truth is if I need a nap I am not going to be very productive if I drink some more coffee to try and pep up and move onto the next thing. Now that I have given myself permission to take a 30 minute nap a couple of times a week, I find that I wake feeling so refreshed and am much more productive than if I had not napped. Just remember to keep your naps to a 30 minute maximum. Napping for longer than this may cause you to fall into a deeper sleep and wake droggy.
Don’t Worry about Life or about Sleep
Another bad habit I have had all my life is using the time right when I get in bed to think, think, think about anything and everything from money to relationships to work. This is something that I will never completely be able to give up because it happens so naturally, but one thing that can help is writing my thoughts, emotions, and to do lists down before bed. When I get the things in my head out on paper I have an easier time letting things go and clearing my mind when I go to bed.
Lastly, if you are having trouble sleeping, the last thing you want to do is lay in bed wishing for and thinking about sleep. When I had bad insomnia I used to stress myself out about not being bale to fall asleep and I would toss and turn all night making the problem worse! When I notice myself getting into this pattern I try to get up drink something hot and maybe look at a book for 15 minutes to change my mind set. Then I can get to sleep easier.