Hey everyone! Alissa here. Sleep is one of the most important, but probably underrated, parts of being healthy. Getting a good night’s sleep every night can help curb sugar cravings (great if you’re trying to lose weight!), lessen anxiety, keep you more alert and attentive during the day, lower stress… the list goes on. But what happens if you have trouble getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep every night? I wanted to offer some tips to those of you who might be suffering from this problem, and also offer a suggestion to those of you who may be trying to get back on a normal sleep schedule for school or work after being on vacation, where going to bed and waking up late was acceptable.
When I was growing up, specifically during my middle school and high school years, I would stay up til the wee hours of the night during the summer. I’m the epitome of a night owl! By the time school rolled back around, my sleep schedule was totally out of whack and my mother would suggest that, starting a week or so before the first day of school, I go to bed an hour earlier than the previous night so as to gradually get my body readjusted to going to sleep at an appropriate hour. Waking up an hour earlier every morning would also make it less brutal to get out of bed on the first day of school. Alternatively, setting an alarm to wake you up early every morning during the last week before work/school can also get you back on a normal schedule after a few nights.
For those of you who are already on a normal sleep schedule, but just have trouble falling asleep at night, I’d like to offer these tips:
- Make sure you’re not drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages within 8-10 hours before bedtime.
- Caffeine’s effects are strongest in the first 2-4 hours after consumption, but depending on your age and health, it can stay in your body for an average of 8-14 hours after drinking it.
- Even beverages that are labeled “decaf” or “caffeine free” still have low amounts of caffeine in them, so avoid these as well!
- If you really enjoy a hot drink before bedtime, opt for chamomile tea. It’s delicious and has a calming effect on the body which may actually help you fall asleep.
- Avoid using electronics within 30-60 minutes before bedtime. It’s said that looking at screens such as a computer, TV or cell phone right before bed makes it harder to fall asleep because the light they emit keeps you more alert.
- Read a book or listen to soothing music to get your mind and body into a relaxed state.
If after trying the suggestions above you are still having trouble falling and staying asleep on a frequent basis, it may be a sign of a sleep disorder, so please do not hesitate to get medical help.
Let us know if any of the tips above helped you! Or if you have any other tips that have worked for you, please share them in the comments below! 🙂