Are you feeling tired and sluggish at work? It could be that you are overloaded and working too hard. Or maybe you're just not getting a good night's sleep. I have needed progressively less sleep as I get older. When I was young I loved to get a luxurious eight--nine hours. Now I only sleep six hours and no matter how hard I try I can't sleep any more. Once I am up, I am up.
Nervous that my changing sleep patterns would disrupt my productivity, I consulted Dr. Michael Larson, who has a PhD from M.I.T. He has been exploring the 70 million Americans that are estimated to have sleep disorders. Larson started creating sleep products back in 2011 as he watched a family member struggle with sleep deprivation. In fact, the problem is so significant that according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, insomnia has cost U.S. Businesses over $63 billion dollars in lost productivity.
Dr. Larson gave me eight great sleep tips for the whole sleep cycle so I could go to bed with confidence that I would wake up well rested.
1. Keep a regular sleep schedule.
If doing the same thing everyday is a challenge, you may want to prioritize your bedtime. Your body acclimates to rhythm so you should try and set a hard and fast bed time as well as a wake up time. The more consistent your timing the more likely you will sleep the whole cycle. And if you are going to take an afternoon siesta, limit it to 30 minutes or you will throw off the cycle at night.
2. Eat healthy
Your stomach works away as you sleep, so why make it work harder. Skip the processed foods and big dessert. Let your digestion be a minor activity that won't disturb your slumber. Aside from good food, no need to complicate your sleep with other toxins and mood changers. Avoid caffeine, sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals before bed.
3. Exercise daily
Sleep has a direct relation to your metabolism. How your body burns energy during the day will affect how it regenerates at night. Set a consistent pattern of exercise to keep those calories burning. You don't need an intense workout, just 30 minutes a day will help. You can even spread it out into three 10 minute segments of jogging, jumping jacks or a fast walk.
4. Enhance your natural melatonin production.
Your body makes the hormone melatonin to help regulate your sleep cycles. The more you make, the better you sleep. You can make more by increasing your exposure to natural sunlight during the day and avoiding bright lights at night.
5. Wind down before bedtime.
All that activity during the day can wind you up like a tight spring. If your brain is still working hard, it's difficult to get into a healthy state of slumber. Your mind and body need time to shift into sleep mode. Set up a wind down time where you can just relax. Avoid using electronic devices like smartphones, TVs, laptop computers as your bedtime approaches. Trying listening to soft music. Take a warm bath.
6. Make your bedroom sleep friendly.
It's the little things in the bedroom that can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep. Keep your room temperature cool but not cold. Buy a comfortable bed. Keep the room dark. Keep the room quiet or use white noise (like a fan) to drown out noise.
7. Get anxiety and stress in check.
Try Relaxation Techniques. Do some easy stretches and breathing Exercises. Even meditation or prayer can put you in the right state of completion for the day. Dr. Larson created a cool sleep hat called the Sleep Shepherd to slow down your brainwaves and ease you to sleep. The Sleep Shepherd even helps drown out unwanted noise (like a snoring partner) as the hat covers your ears and plays tones into them to get your brainwaves going the right way for deep sleep.
8. Go back to sleep
Nearly everyone wakes up during the night, but most people don't remember, unless of course you woke up from a nightmare. In that case, perhaps a little less Freddy Kruger and a little more rom-com is in need. But if life's trials and tribulations prevent you from going back to sleep, try keeping a notepad and pen near your bed to jot down thoughts and help postpone worrying or brainstorming that may occur in the middle of the night. One cool aspect of Dr. Larson's Sleep Shepherd hat is that it senses your body movement if you wake up and will turn back on automatically to guide you gently back to sleep. What more can you ask of modern technology?