Sleeping is a critical function for a healthy person. When it comes to sleeping well, though, everyone likes to focus on the quantity of sleep that they get — and that’s certainly important. Most research indicates that the average adult should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
On top of that, going more than 20 hours without sleep is roughly equivalent to having a blood-alcohol concentration of .08% — that’s over the legal limit. So, yes, you need to get more than a handful of hours of sleep per day.
However, there’s another critical element to the sleep game that often gets overlooked: its quality. If you feel that you’re not quite getting the “beauty” part of that beauty sleep, here are a few suggestions for ways to increase the health and overall quality of your slumberous rest.
Let’s start with the basics: your sleeping space. Rule number one for quality sleep is that you should have a space that is completely dedicated to sleeping. Typically this is your bedroom. Even if you’re living in a studio apartment where you don’t have a separate sleeping room, though, you can still preserve your bed as a sacred sleeping space.
Making this line of dozy demarcation is important, as it allows your mind to naturally shift into sleeping mode when you’re in your sleeping space. If you snack, binge shows, or do homework while in bed, you’re more likely to wake yourself up and find it difficult to nod off when the time comes.
Along with addressing your physical space, it’s important to take some time to think about your mental state. If you are feeling stressed, it will be a lot harder to ignore those anxious thoughts and let yourself fall asleep.
If you’re in school, take some time to manage the stress in your life. Clear your schedule, cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and strive to keep things in perspective. This will, in turn, help you relax and, by extension, ultimately fall asleep.
When you sleep sporadically, it can be difficult to allow your body to wind down in preparation for bedtime. Whenever possible, try to set up a sleep schedule for yourself. Having a schedule in place will allow your body to naturally wind down at the same time each day.
This doesn’t have to be a strict “off to bed by 9 p.m.” kind of timetable, either. It can be a window of time, between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., for instance. That way if you’re busy later into the evening, you can still try to adjust things to stick to your schedule.
The title of this section is a bit misleading. Actually, as you try to rest, the last thing on your mind should be what you’ll be doing tomorrow. That’s a sure recipe for a buzzing brain and fitful sleep.
That’s why you should take some time to head those thoughts off at the pass. One way to help calm your mind before bed is to sit down and create a to-do list for the morrow. Write down unfinished tasks, looming responsibilities, and so on. Even if they seem obvious, write them down.
Knowing that you’ve committed your concerns to paper will help you let go of your waking worries and let the sandman do the rest.
Humans thrive on routines. Morning routines can help you wake up, work routines can help you prep for a day at the office, and bedtime routines can prep your mind, body, and soul for some good old R&R.
A good bedtime routine can consist of a variety of different items, including:
- Taking a bath or shower.
- Brushing your teeth.
- Getting dressed in your pyjamas.
- Reading a good book (or a bad book — snore…).
- Removing your contacts — when in doubt, take them out!
Everyone’s routine varies. However, having a methodical bedtime drill can help your brain shut down and your body relax.
Everyone is glued to their phones these days. In fact, when asked, 60% of college students openly admitted that they were flat out addicted to their smartphones. Naturally, this desire to stare at a bright blue light for hours on end isn’t good for your sleep.
One of the best ways to naturally cultivate healthier sleep is by simply unplugging from the electronics for a half-hour, hour, or even the entire evening before you go to sleep.
Sleep is important, in good quantities and high quality. If you feel that you’re struggling to stay asleep through the night or you’re waking up still feeling exhausted, take steps to address the issue.
Create that devoted sleeping space, build routines and habits around your bedtime, and make sure to address stress, anxiety, and other factors in your everyday life that can feed your sleeping woes.
If you can take steps like these, you’ll be able to begin benefitting from better sleep both now and over the long term.