Spring forward, and still catch those Z’s.
When Daylight Savings rolls around, it means spring is in the air and warmer months are ahead, which most people would agree is a good thing. The subtle changes in sleep patterns due to Daylight Savings has been studied, and the results of those studies might surprise you. Per Live Science, studies show that there is an increase in heart attacks, work-related injuries, cluster headaches and cyberloafing in the days following Daylight Savings. To avoid being a statistic during this time of year, you want to ensure you're taking care of yourself, which includes knowing how to get enough sleep throughout the night. These tips can also help improve sleep habits year-round!
How do you know you're not getting enough sleep?
For some of us, the minute we wake up, we're clear that going back to bed for just a bit more sleep would help us get through our day a little easier. Then there are those of us who don't realize we're not getting enough sleep until the symptoms set in. As reported in Real Simple's Health article, "7 Sneaky Signs You're Not Getting Enough Sleep," if your moody or your performance is negatively impacted, it might mean you're not getting enough sleep and could benefit from learning how to improve sleep habits. Statistics from the Harvard Medical School show that insomnia can cause psychiatric disorders that lead to changes in mood and negatively impact work performance. Also, if you find that your judgment is impaired, you look a bit rough and you're generally not feeling well, then lack of sleep might be the culprit.
So, here’s how to get enough sleep:
Use apps that monitor your sleep patterns.
With today's technology, you can track your sleep patterns without a visit to the doctor's office. There are several apps and devices you can download or purchase to help you know how well you're sleeping. FitBit One is a gadget that helps you monitor your exercise and sleep patterns. Sleep as Android, Sleep Cycle and Sleep Bot are all apps you can download to help you monitor your sleep. Check out "Five Best Sleep Tracking Gadgets or Apps" by Life Hacker for additional options.
Create productive bedtime routines and rituals.
Daylight Savings or not, a routine can help you relax and get mentally prepared to snooze. Find a bedtime routine that helps you relax and de-stress. Doing so will allow you to rest better once your head hits the pillow. This might mean a warm bath with some lavender bath salts, lighting a candle and meditating, or reading a book, for example. It's also helpful if your bedtime routines and rituals are consistent from night to night.
Avoid the TV, phone and computer right before bed.
The brain needs some time to rest and prepare for sleep. Per Psych Centra, artificial lighting from the TV, computer and phones has been proven to disrupt sleep patterns. The bright screens of your phone or computer will make your brain think it's still time to work, so falling asleep will be more difficult. The same goes for watching TV, especially a high-intensity show that your body and mind are reacting to as you watch, in addition to reacting to the artificial light beaming from the TV. To improve sleep habits, try going without any of these devices at least an hour before bedtime, and many health professionals would suggest you avoid having them in the bedroom at all.
Use a nightlight.
If you wake up in the middle of the night and turn the light on, it tricks your brain into thinking it's time to get up, which means your melatonin levels begin to decrease. When your melatonin levels begin to decrease, it's more difficult to fall back to sleep. Use a soft night light to guide you at night, instead of having to turn on a bright light when you go to the bathroom.
Don't eat after 8pm.
For some, eating late at night can disrupt their sleep patterns. It can make it difficult to fall asleep and cause you to dream more. To improve sleep habits, don't eat late and especially avoid caffeinated products that can keep you awake.
Avoid alcohol and nicotine before bed.
Per WebMD, though many think that alcohol helps them sleep, it actually has a rebound effect. It might help you fall asleep, but you'll likely wake up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to fall back to sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant, so to improve sleep habits it's best to avoid it before bedtime, as well.
Use a sound machine app.
If you're the type of person that wakes at the sound of every little noise or have trouble falling to sleep because it's either too noisy or too quiet, consider downloading a sound machine app. Apps like Relax Melodies have sounds including sleep sounds, rain sounds, sleep & relax sounds and white noise baby sleep sounds.
Go to sleep early.
Several online sites, including Every Day Sleep and Dr. OZ's blog, report on studies that show your body heals the most between the hours of 10:00pm and 2:00am. This timeframe allows for the most regenerative sleep, and any sleep after this time period is more superficial. Get to bed early for the most restful and regenerative night's sleep, so you can wake feeling refreshed in the morning.
Avoid high-intensity exercise.
As explained on WebMD, avoid intense exercise three hours prior to bedtime. Intense exercise can ramp up your system and keep you awake, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid when working to improve sleep habits.
Get up at the same time each morning.
A routine is critical with knowing how to get enough sleep. It helps to create consistent sleep habits to improve sleep patterns, from going to bed at the same time each night to getting up at the same time each morning, including weekends.
Don’t let your pets sleep with you.
Okay, so I have a cute little doggie, and I can't help but let her climb into bed with me every once in awhile. At the same time, if you have a dog that moves around a lot or likes to cuddle on you, which can make you too hot, then keep them out of your bed so you can get a better night's sleep.
These are just a few of the tips on how to get enough sleep to support and improve sleep habits. Getting seven to eight hours of restful and regenerative sleep at night, for most, helps keep their productivity, mood, health, and overall well-being in good standing; which means, your career will remain in good standing, as well. Or, if you're looking for a career change, you'll be focused and bright-eyed for the adventure!
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