10 Habits for Better Sleep

10 Habits for Better Sleep

by Molly, selected from DivineCaroline

Getting a good night’s sleep ensures more than extra spring in your step each  day.  According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, chronic sleep  loss can contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure,  and a weakening of the  immune system! Conversely, good sleeping habits  boost the ability to learn and  remember things, keep weight in check,  keep an upbeat attitude, maintain  cardiovascular health, fight off  disease, and avoid accidents caused by  drowsiness. If you struggle with  getting quality zzzs, the following tips can  help you develop sleeping  habits to live by.

Go to bed at the same time every night. One of the best  ways to ensure you get enough sleep it to create a  routine that you and your  body become accustomed to. And step number one  in establishing a healthy sleep  routine is setting and sticking to a  bedtime that allows you to get enough  sleep—but not too much sleep.  (The National Sleep Foundations claims  the “right” amount of sleep is  based on the individual and his or her age.)  Select a bedtime that gives  you between seven and eight hours of snooze time  and you’re on the  right track.

Wake up at the same time every morning. The yin to the  above tip’s yang, waking up at the same time each day  not only assures you  don’t oversleep. It also enables your body to get  into a rhythm, and lots of  studies have shown that longstanding  routine—as well as adequate sleep—has been  linked to longevity.

Nap if you go off schedule. Travel, deadlines, worries,  and all kinds of other routine  interruptions can put a damper on your sleep  schedule. But rather than  try to make up lost time by sleeping in, it’s better  to take a midday  nap when you can. Otherwise, you will throw off your new  routine.

Don’t drink caffeine in the evening. The drink that gets  you going in the morning is also the one that  will keep you up at night—if you  drink it too late in the day. Know your  limits and avoid caffeine too close to  bedtime. After all, the last  thing you want to do is tuck yourself in only to  stare at the walls as  your heart races thanks to an after-dinner espresso.

Don’t use technology in your bedroom. Your TV,  smartphone, and computer are all gadgets that get your mind  buzzing, not  relaxing. In order to calm yourself down, it’s a good idea  to keep all  distractions out of sight, lest you be inspired to click on  the news or check  your email one last time. In fact, your bedroom  should only incorporate items  conducive to sleep.

Create darkness. Your body is designed to take sleep  cues from darkness. So why not  help it out by making your space nice and dark?  Use thick curtains or  shades, cover or hide the clock, and help your brain  power down for the  night.

Use a noise machine if necessary. Some noises are  soothing, such as the sound of the ocean or the  whisper of the wind. But other  noises—like loud neighbors or honking  cars—can keep you from getting the zzzs  you need. Luckily, there are  plenty of noise machines on the market that offer  a variety of “white  noise” options. Even a fan can help drown out unwanted  decibels if  you’re in a pinch.

Eat on the early side. Big meals right before bedtime  force your body to digest rather than  rest, while especially rich or spicy  meals may cause sleep-depriving  discomfort as they make their way through your  stomach. Eat light and on  the early side and you’ll ensure your food won’t keep  you up.

Avoid alcohol before bed. Sure, alcohol can make you  drowsy and even help you fall asleep. But  it also tends to wake you up in the  middle of the night, lessening the  overall quality of your sleep. Steer clear  of libations, or go moderate  early in the evening, to increase your chances of  solid sleep.

Make sure your bed is comfortable. If ever there were  an investment worth making, it’s a quality mattress and bedding.  Yes, these  items are expensive. But consider them a preventative  medical  expense—seriously. A good mattress and comfy sheets and pillows  help ensure you  get the sleep you need—and all the health benefits that  come with it.