Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We all know the feeling. It’s Sunday night and you’re lying in bed staring at the ceiling. You glance at the clock, which reads 12:00 AM, but that’s ok because there’s still time to get a (semi) full night’s rest before the alarm rings at 6:00 AM. But your mind is running with all the tasks that have to be completed in the upcoming week. You toss and turn to alleviate the anxiety, but there is still a pit at the bottom of your stomach preventing you from finding any peace of mind. The clock now reads 12:45 AM. You are getting frustrated. Not only are you fretting about work, but now the pressure to fall asleep before 1:00 AM is mounting. You decide to cut your losses and read the book that has been sitting on your nightstand for well over two months. You drift off while reading only to wake again at 2:30 AM. You are dreading the day ahead, knowing that any hope of having a productive start to the week is now a pipe dream. You stare at the ceiling some more, studying the hypnotic rotations of the ceiling fan…

You are startled awake. It’s 6:00 AM and the alarm is blaring. It’s time to start the day even though you have only had three hours of sleep.

Getting a full night’s sleep is something many busy professionals struggle with, but there are ways to alter your routine. Before you commit to habit-forming sleep aids, take this quiz to determine how your quality of sleep compares to others. Follow the results with these helpful tips for a good night’s sleep, which can lead to more productivity during the day.
  • Maintain a stable sleep schedule. While there is no magic number for the appropriate amount of sleep, the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting as close to eight hours of sleep each night. Try going to bed and waking up around the same time every day, even on the weekends.

  • Establish a bedtime routine. Many people find it helpful to read with soft lighting or take a bath before falling asleep. You can also develop a schedule that includes picking out your clothes for the next day, writing in a journal or drinking a glass of milk.

  • Create a sleep-conducive environment. Design your sleep environment so that it is cool, dark, quiet and free from any distractions. This may include covering your windows with thick curtains, installing a ceiling fan or wearing earplugs to block out unwanted noise. Keep in mind that some people need white noise to fall asleep, which can be found through humidifiers and other sleep devices.

  • Find the right mattress and pillows. Take time to find the appropriate mattress and pillows for your sleep patterns. You may even want to consider consulting with a sleep specialist to determine the firmness that is best for you.

  • Avoid eating before going to sleep. Finish eating and drinking two to three hours before going to bed, especially a larger meal. This will prevent discomfort, such as heartburn, and frequent bathroom trips while you are trying to fall asleep.

  • Exercise regularly. Even a small amount of physical activity is better than none, but don’t try to fit it in at the expense of a full night’s rest. Develop the best routine for you. While some find that exercising at night makes them more tired, which prepares them for bedtime, others find that exercising at night is too stimulating and keeps them awake.

  • Avoid nicotine products. Nicotine is a stimulant, which will keep you up at night. This is another reason to quit smoking!

  • Avoid caffeine before you go to sleep. Caffeine is also a stimulant and is found in many products, including chocolate, coffee, tea and soda. It can remain in your system for up to five hours, but some people can feel the effects for 12 hours.

  • Avoid consuming alcohol before going to sleep. Alcohol disrupts sleep, causing frequent wakings during the night.

  • Avoid screen time before going to sleep. Watching TV or spending time on the computer or cell phone before going to bed disrupts your circadian rhythms, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Turn off these devices at least two hours before going to bed.
With these tips, you should be sleeping like a baby on a regular basis! Sweet dreams. 

Let us know if these suggestions help you catch up on that beauty sleep...tweet us at @monikadixonpr. Just not during the two hours leading up to your shut eye (see last tip)!
By Rebecca Taylor, MDPR Team Member 

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