In today’s overly connected world, it’s easy to keep scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, sun-up to well past sundown. Being connected 24/7 has upsides: business and personal connections can happen anywhere, any time. You can call your cross-country sibling, message a funny cat video to your favorite aunt, send a roommate a passive-aggressive rent reminder. The possibilities online are endless.
These incredible advancements in communication and productivity also have their downsides. More than one-third of American adults don’t get enough sleep. We willingly deprive ourselves with every swipe, tap, and like. And there are countless other reasons why you may feel tired during the day. In fact, there’s a whole science behind it. One of the most common causes of fatigue is the lack of quality sleep.
Here’s some good news: no matter how poor your bedtime habits currently are, you always have the power to get your sleep schedule back on track. Read on to assess your current sleep habits and learn how you can better catch all those sweet, sweet Z’s.
What Sleep Does
There are oh so many reasons to get an adequate amount of sleep. Not only does your body spend this time repairing itself, a healthy amount of sleep can improve mood, help with weight management, reduce stress, lower your risk for serious health problems, offer clearer thinking, improve your work and school performance, and more. The CDC recommends adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.
While scientists don’t entirely understand everything snoozing does for the human body and mind, we definitely know what happens when we don’t get enough of it. Even one night of sleep deprivation may result in daytime sleepiness, a foggy mind, physical and mental fatigue, difficulty concentrating, even memory impairment. Oh, and it turns out beauty sleep isn’t just an expression. Cellular stress is another result of sleeplessness, and it can show on your skin.
Practice Your Z’s
Lucky for you, even if you’re sleep deprived, there’s hope! Like any healthy routine, it all starts with making the effort until it’s a habit. Here are seven simple ways you can improve every snooze:
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends. Avoid sleep inertia by committing to a consistent sleep schedule seven days a week. Don’t worry about a few late nights a week, just make sure to wake up at the same time every day. Your body will adjust the next night by getting more tired, earlier. You’ll also find yourself waking up before your alarm more often, refreshed and ready to take on the day. It’s truly one of the greatest feelings on this earth.
- Avoid stimulants like alcohol, sugar, and caffeine well before bedtime. The afternoon struggle is all too real, but turning to that pick-me-up cup of coffee may have adverse effects when it continues to pick you up at 10:00 p.m. Similarly, sugar and other simple, processed carbs will cause a spike and crash in blood sugar, affecting your circadian rhythm. Alcohol can help you get to sleep (nightcap, anyone?), but it actually interrupts rapid eye movement (REM), one of the five key stages of the sleep cycle.
- Turn off the electronics an hour—or two—before slumber. You’re probably already familiar with the dreaded blue light flowing from our screens. Not only does this light throw our circadian rhythm off, long-term exposure may cause macular degeneration. Give your eyes a rest by avoiding screens for at least an hour before bedtime. Pick up a screen-free habit such as reading, meditating to sleep sounds, or other relaxing activities.
- Develop a nightly skincare routine. Any excuse to treat your epidermis is a win-win for you and your skin. Adopting healthy skincare habits is good for any time of day, particularly as part of a nighttime routine—and it’s another excuse to avoid electronics. Put on some relaxing music and get to pampering.
- Workouts are awesome for sleep—if you time them right. Regular exercise is a great way to promote a good night’s sleep, but it’s all about timing. Working out too close to bedtime will leave your body wide awake and wired for the next exciting activity. Instead of yoga too late into the evening, take a time-out with some mindfulness practices.
- Chill out. When your core temperature drops, it’s a signal to your body to produce melatonin. Drop the temperature a few degrees, shower, wear fewer layers to bed, and throw on some socks—no, really.
- Keep a sleep diary. Take a quick minute in the morning to jot down roughly what time you went to bed and what time you woke up, how many times you woke during the night, and how refreshing your sleep was. Make a short note of what you did the day before which may have contributed to a better or worse night’s sleep. You may be surprised how your new habits positively contribute to sleep quality!
Of course, life has a habit of derailing our best-laid plans. Whether it’s a rowdy pillow fight, the absolute need to watch the new episode of MasterChef Junior, traveling through too many time zones, or any number of other reasons, it’s unavoidable, at times, to end up restless at the end of the day. When you need occasional extra help to get into a sleepy-time state, consider a non–habit forming melatonin supplement. An extra dose of melatonin can help support your body’s natural circadian rhythms for those challenging nights. One option is Pure Rest™, USANA’s fast-acting melatonin supplement.*
What are your go-to tips for getting the best sleep? For me, it was taking a step back and realizing I needed to make sleep a priority. Once I scheduled in time to wind down—and swapped my phone for a good historical fiction and some tea—the rest fell into place.
Drop your advice below!
|*THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.|