For most people, sleep is a daily (or should I say nightly?) activity that has tangible benefits on their daily lives, whether or not they realize it. Sleep not only rejuvenates and repairs your body, but also improves memory, reduces stress, and keeps your heart healthy. In fact, sleep is just as necessary as is eating and breathing, and so developing good sleep habits is so important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and allowing you to go out into the world and succeed at whatever you do. For myself personally, I unfortunately had some very bad sleep habits during my life (especially during college). But luckily I learned how to improve my sleep and became a better overall person because of it. And now I want to share all of my habits that I use to ensure that I get a good night’s sleep, every day!
First and foremost, it is important that you get the right amount of sleep. For most adults, this means about eight hours of sleep every night. And apparently studies have shown that even getting just a few hours more or less of sleep can affect your health in a negative way. Therefore, to be more specific, you should target receiving seven hours of sleep at a minimum and nine hours of sleep at a maximum. However, note that these are just guidelines and you should not fret too hard if you sleep for only six hours here and ten hours there. Just try to maintain the seven to nine hours of sleep guideline on average and you should be fine. The point of this number is to keep you from consistently sleeping in every day, or consistently sleeping only a few hours every night, as that is when the negative health effects start to show up.
Another big thing that I learned over the years is not to take naps during the day. I know how tempting it may be to just fall asleep at a moment’s notice as soon as you may be feeling tired, but while you may feel slightly more refreshed in the short term, you end up throwing your entire sleep cycle out of whack! So many times in the past have I taken just an hour nap at 4:00 PM in the afternoon, and felt great after waking up an hour later. But then at night, instead of falling asleep at 11:00 PM like I was used to and expecting to, I ended up staying up well past midnight, sometimes even as late as 2:00 AM in the morning. This led to me feeling even more groggy and tired in the morning when I had to wake up to go to work, and what ended up happening was my sleep cycle went completely crazy until the weekend finally came and I had time to reset my internal clock. As you can see, even just a single nap can throw off not just when you sleep, but the effectiveness of your sleep as well.
Along those same lines, a great way to make sure that don’t immediately fall asleep is to avoid doing anything on your bed other than sleeping, as much as possible. As comfortable working on your bed may feel, it will inevitably lead to you want to take a nap, or you simply falling asleep with your laptop still open, or whatever the case may be. Once I started using my desk for everything during the day instead of working on my bed, I found that it was nearly impossible for me to fall asleep during the day. This is a great tip that really should be used by everyone who can’t control themselves from working on their beds.
And whenever possible you should do whatever it takes to make your desk area more conducive to work as much as possible. If your desk is too small and doesn’t give you enough room to comfortably do your work, buy yourself a new and larger desk that will accommodate the space that is necessary. Or if you can’t control yourself from unplugging your laptop and moving it over the bed when you are really tired, use a lock and key to lock your laptop to your desk, making it more cumbersome and thus less likely that you move your laptop back onto the bed. And if really can’t control yourself, then possibly think about moving your work station to another room entirely. These all might seem like silly precautions to take, but like I said, any nap that you end up taking can mess up your sleep schedule and thus your health for days.
Another great tip for people to sleep well is to set their alarm exactly when you need to wake up, and nothing more. So many people I know set alarms multiple times, each with ten minute intervals between them, which is their way of slowly waking up and eventually getting out of bed by the time the last alarm goes off. However, this is detrimental to getting good sleep, as for the last 20 minutes or so, you won’t be in a deep sleep but rather lie in a half-awake state almost waiting for the next alarm to go off so you can just hit the snooze button again. It doesn’t make any sense! Set only one alarm and count on waking up when you hear that alarm. And if you feel like you may inadvertently hit the snooze button and end up oversleeping, set your alarm away from your reach, such as across the room. This not only ensures that you won’t turn off the alarm on accident, but also ensures that when the alarm goes off, that you actually wake up to get to the alarm to turn it off.
All of these tips are very small things that you can do to make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep. And even though they may seem a bit over the top and overkill, the truth of the matter is that sleep is such an important aspect of your life that you shouldn’t neglect taking steps to achieve the best sleep possible. Especially when such steps are fairly easy to do so. So just follow my tips, and see for yourself not only how much better sleep you end up getting, but also how much better your days become as a whole because of that improved sleep!