LIf you aren’t getting between 7 and 9 hours every night, then one of your 2018 New Year’s Resolutions should be to get more sleep – no matter what other resolutions you set. That number of hours is the recommended amount by the National Sleep Foundation but it’s difficult to achieve consistently with so many calls on our time. Here are some practical ways to make strides to sleeping more in 2018.
1. Understand the Zzzz Facts
Organizations like the National Sleep Foundation (sleepfoundation.org) provide information on the importance of sleep for your health and mental wellbeing. Find out what constitutes a sleep disorder, what the relationship between sleep and food, productivity and a happy home life is.
2. Understand the Importance of Regular Exercise
To facilitate the necessary seven to nine hours of sleep per night, make sure to exercise regularly. Studies have shown that forest walks are particularly good for getting regular sleep and those who exercise at moderate intensity levels have experienced relief from insomnia.
3. Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule
You can train body and mind to unwind at the end of the day by keeping to a regular sleep schedule. Don't go out jogging late at night or try to cram several additional hours of sleep into less busy periods at the weekend or during holidays. According to research, it's not possible to make up for lost sleep in just a couple of nights. Sticking to a sleep routine weekdays and on weekends, however, does work.
4. Associate Bed with Bedtime Stuff Only
Ban the TV from the bedroom. The word "bed" must conjure up the image of "sleeping beauty" instantly, so don't use the bedroom for anything other than sleep or similarly relaxing activities that may go bump in the night, but are gentle on your peace of mind and sleepy head.
5. Discover Your Natural Body Clock
Because we mostly rely on snooze buttons of our alarm clocks, few of us remember our body's natural rhythms or have a handle on our circadian rhythms, as they are also called. In order for better sleep habits to develop, discover when your body wants to go to sleep naturally and when it wants to wake up and be active. Plan your schedule around those natural rhythms and stick to them. Vacations are a good time to discover this - log the times in your sleep schedule.
6. Avoid Nightcaps
Alcohol intake can disrupt your natural sleep pattern and increase your chance of developing sleep disorders - too much liquid prompts our bladders to wake us up during the night to relieve ourselves. If you drink alcohol, do it earlier in the evening and you'll have a far more restful night.
7. Swap Alcohol for Herbal Tea or Hot Milk
Instead of a boozy nightcap, try having a cup of herbal tea. Chamomile tea has been shown to have anti-anxiety properties, as has comfrey tea, which is more to most people's palate. Or simply stick with childhood favorites: a cup of hot chocolate or milk will help you to relax.
8. Relax with a Bit of Hanky Panky
Having sex or masturbating before bedtime can help you to relax and fall asleep. Hormones like oxytocin are released during and after sexual activity, which helps achieve a quick departure into the Land of Nod.
9. Adopt Best Practice Napping
Enjoying a snooze for 10 to 20 minutes at least three to four hours before actual bedtime won't interfere with your good night's sleep, but allowing yourself to sleep for longer periods of time on the sofa in front of the TV will certainly have an adverse effect. If you can, nap in the afternoon.
I put getting more sleep on my Resolutions every year and always fail (insomnia is my constant bedfellow!) Do you get enough sleep? No? Time for a resolution!