Have you caught yourself looking at Twitter at 1 a.m.? Do you wake up at night to check your Facebook news feed? Are you writing emails instead of dreaming?
As communicators, we’re fanatical about staying connected at all times. Our sleep, however, is vital to our performance during the day. Here are some tips to follow up on the recent infographic Ragan published, to help you achieve the rest your body needs.
1. Don’t go to bed angry. It’s a cliché that carries a lot of truth. Reserve some time before you head to bed for what my dad always calls “winding down” from your day.
Choose a time to turn off your cell phone, log out of email, and close the computer. The few minutes it takes to disconnect and put your mind at rest makes all the difference. I find that if I check email after get into bed, I’m not ready to snooze once the lights are out. Which brings me to my next point:
2. Let bed be bed. Limit, within reason, the activity in your bed. Read on your couch, work at your desk, eat at your table, and sleep in your bed. In order to train your brain to associate your bed with sleepy time, you don’t want to be living in it.
3. Limit caffeine. Having any sort of caffeinated drinks after noon could affect the way you settle once night falls.
4. Choose a wake-up time. Set your alarm and train your body to wake-up at the same time every day, regardless of the time you went to sleep. This promotes a healthy sleep-wake pattern, and helps set you on the path to more regular rest.
5. Nap fast. If you’re starting to fade in the afternoon, try to power through. If you must nap, limit it to a 15 minute or less power nap. Letting your body rest too much during the day could mean you’re not ready to power down later that night.
6. Research relaxation. It could be worthwhile to learn about meditative practices and rhythmic breathing to calm you down before bedtime. Check out some books from your local library (that you can read on the couch), or try a yoga class that concentrates on meditation.
7. Get physical. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your day. It could be a run in the morning or a walk in the afternoon. By getting your body active, it will feel more ready for rest at nighttime. (Just avoid strenuous workouts within the hour you’re meant to head to bed, as it could get in the way of your brain and body getting into night-mode.)
8. Do the dark. You’ll want to sleep with as little light as possible. Use curtains or even an eyemask if you need to. A friend of mine started using earplugs to drown out noise to help him fall asleep. Now, he swears by it.
9. Pick a protein. A light protein snack about 30 minutes before bed can help the brain produce melatonin and serotonin, which will help you sleep better. Try a glass of milk or, my favorite, a Greek yogurt with a handful of almonds.
10. Keep cool. Your body achieves its best rest after it’s cooled down, so limit any sort of warm environment that could disrupt this.
11. Invest in a bed. It sounds silly and obvious, but you want to be at your most comfortable when you’re ready to sleep. Not only does this mean finding a bed and pillows that fit you properly, but thinking about the pajamas you wear, the blankets you use, and the bed sheets you buy. Visit your local store or do some online research to learn what is best for your habits and preference. Your body will thank you later.