Life forces us to make decisions every day. Often modern life forces choices that work against what is best for our health. Sleep restores our energy, but life’s demands can cause us to skip beneficial sleep time. For typical adults, seven to nine hours of good, uninterrupted sleep allows us to improve mental function, keep a positive mood, and remain alert without stretches of fatigue and dullness. The following are five lifestyle habits to develop to gain and maintain positive sleep experiences:
- Set your bedroom for sleeping, not texting, reading, or watching TV. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, your TV or other screen-time activities might be to blame. The brightness of the screen makes you more alert – not something you want to feel right before you’re set to doze off.
- Go to sleep at the same time and awake at the same time. You need consistency, and this requires ruling yourself with an iron will. For example, put your alarm clock across the room if you are apt to hit the snooze while half asleep. It may be necessary to set multiple alarms or even initially ask someone to wake you. To track your progress, record your bed and wake times in a sleep log.
- Make your bedroom as dark and silent as possible. Dim the lights while you get ready for bed or turn off bright overhead lamps and switch to a soft, bedside lamp. Your body is programmed to sleep when it’s dark, so you can encourage that rhythm by easing into nighttime.
- Stop significant mental activity two hours before bedtime. If you bring work home or are helping the kids with homework, you need time to unwind and relax our mind to set the stage for sleep. This practice can help create closure for the day and allow your brain to begin the process of shutting down.
- Curtail eating two hours before bedtime. Between food and bed, leave a period for your body to digest what you last ate before you go to sleep.
These simple practices, which many people overlook or focus on intermittently, work together powerfully. Encouraging a positive sleep experience for yourself will help you feel strong and energetic as you begin every day.
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