Are you working against yourself when it comes to sleep, energy levels, motivation, and mood? You may not even know. Tweet us @kalasleep or read below to find out.
For the past week we've been looking at circadian rhythms - the cycles that your body goes through every 24 hours or so - and how they could be affecting your mood and health. We've touched on some ways to treat circadian rhythm disruptions (jetlag and seasonal affective disorder, for example), but are there everyday habits that could help you fall asleep faster and wake up more effectively - keeping you from throwing your rhythms out of whack? Actually, no.
Are there everyday habits that could keep you from throwing your sleep, energy levels, motivation, and emotions out of whack?
JK, there absolutely are. Here are some easy ways to keep your sleep, energy levels, motivation, and emotions on track - by sleeping better and waking up more naturally & effectively.
1. In the first few minutes after you wake up, do something to raise your body temperature - take a shower, do some jumping jacks, whatever works.
Your body temperature is higher when you're awake than when you're asleep, so the quicker you get it there, the more awake you'll feel.
2. If it's light outside in the half hour after you wake up, go take a walk, or at least sit in bright sunlight for 10-30 minutes.
Bright light signals chemical changes in your brain that wake your body up. If it's not bright outside, some light therapy could help you out.
3. If you nap, nap strategically.
Limit nap length to between 10 and 20 minutes, and don't nap after 4pm.
4. Avoid blue light for at least an hour before bed.
This includes light from energy-efficient bulbs as well as your TV, phone, tablet, computer, and other screen electronics.
5. Use your bed ONLY for sleep (ok, sex too).
Bed activities should NOT include work, TV, hanging out, or even reading. Using your bed only for sleep trains your brain to associate bed with sleep - which will help it turn off when you slip under the covers.
6. If you can't sleep, get out of bed.
Lying in bed tossing, turning, and worrying that you won't fall asleep is - big surprise - not helping you fall asleep. In fact, it's training your brain to stay awake, by associating your bed with feelings of anxiety. So get up and do something relaxing - walk around, read, have a cup of tea. NO screen electronics though! They're only telling your brain to stay awake.
7. Wake up at the same time every day.
As much as possible, keep to the same schedule on weekends as you do during the week. It'll keep you from feeling groggy when you switch back to the weekday life.
8. Have good bedtime habits - what some people call "sleep hygiene."
Basically, create routines and habits that support good sleep - no surprises here. Sleep somewhere quiet (or have a white noise machine to filter out disruptive sounds - a number of apps have great options for soothing white noise). Keep a cool room - 67-68 degrees is ideal. Avoid caffeine after 2pm (the effects of caffeine in the body can last many hours). Exercise frequently, if you can - tiring yourself out makes it more likely you'll sleep well. You know, stuff like that.
What to you do to make sure you sleep well? We'd love to hear your secrets (do tell). Tweet us @kalasleep and share your tips & tricks!