It’s the end of the year, and many of us are thinking how to start 2021 in the best possible way. So why not start with the basics and center your New Year’s resolutions around creating a healthier and happier you? Sleeping well plays a crucial role in that, since being well-rested is essential to our physical and mental well-being.
New Year's Resolutions are the perfect excuse to finally make those small changes that help you rest better at night and feel better during the day. Here are some tips to help you achieve that, organized around four main tasks:
1. Rethink your schedule
This step is essential if you want to train your body to wind down at a set time every day, which will increase your chances of resting better at night.
- If you are used to taking naps, make sure they don’t exceed 20 minutes, and don’t nap late in the afternoon.
- Decide on a specific bedtime and stick to it. Most adults need between 7 to 9 hours of rest every night, so use that guideline to decide at what time you need to be in bed.
- Be consistent with your wake-up time. It’s tempting to sleep in (especially during the winter), but don’t make a habit of it.
- If you’re making big changes to your bedtime schedule, give your body time to adjust. For example, if you normally go to bed at midnight and realize 10 pm is best, adjust your schedule every couple days.
2. Develop good habits
Getting a solid night’s sleep depends on your daytime activities. So make sure you develop positive habits so you’re sleepy at the day’s end.
- Keep active by doing some sort of exercise on a daily basis. This can be anything from yoga to biking, kickboxing or simply going for a walk. The point is to keep moving, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime.
- Cut down on caffeine, sugary drinks, and alcohol, as they promote a catch-22 situation where you need them to wind down and to stay awake. No caffeine after 12 noon!
- Get a little natural light exposure in the morning. Then gradually reduce light exposure as you get closer to bed time.
- Don’t go bed on a full stomach. It’s better to have dinner early so you give your body time to digest.
3. Personalize your bedtime ritual
Creating a bedtime ritual can help your body wind down and ensure you stick to your schedule. It can also help fight insomnia!
- Avoid watching TV or playing with your phone while in bed. Blue light exposure has been linked to sleep problems because it interferes with melatonin production. Ideally you should avoid using electronic devices for at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Choose a relaxing activity that you can do instead during those 30 minutes: meditation, stretching, massage, aromatherapy, reading a book, etc.
- Dim your bedroom lights or use candles while you get ready for bed.
4. Set up your bedroom for comfort
Creating the right bedroom environment is conducive to a good rest and can boost the results of your bedtime ritual.
- Get the best mattress, bed sheets, and pillow you can afford. You’ll use them for approximately 8 hours every night, so they need to be as comfortable as possible.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, ideally between 65F and 72F. You may want to leave the windows open for a few minutes before bed, or turn on the heater if the bedroom is cold.
- Block noise, either with ear plugs, using a white noise machine, or a fan.
This list can look a bit overwhelming, but there’s no need to stress and try everything at once. The point is precisely to avoid stress! Moreover, everyone’s reaction may be slightly different, so our suggestion is to try one thing at the time (or one from each group) and see what works for you and what doesn’t.
And remember that it may take a while before you see results, so stick with the changes you make for a week or so before ruling them out and moving onto the next thing.
Are You Sleeping With A Snorer?
You can make all the changes we’ve suggested and still have trouble sleeping well. This is likely if your partner snores, which is a common situation. According to recent statistics, snoring affects nearly 60% of males and 40% of females in the US. And it doesn’t only affect them, but also their partners.
You may want to encourage your partner to speak to a doctor and get tested for obstructive sleep apnea. This condition is one of the main causes of loud snoring, and it can have a serious impact on your partner’s health.
Tackling sleeping problems should be high in everyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions. Contact us to find more about obstructive sleep apnea tests and treatments.