8 Ways To Get Better Sleep

Jake Wells

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Most of us are sleep deprived.

We know we aren't getting enough shuteye and yet we keep pushing ourselves too far. Sleep is the number one way to boost your energy levels, especially your mental energy. Do you know how many hours of sleep you actually get every night? If you're not sure, keep track for a week to see how much you’re sleeping. Write it down on paper or try out a free app called Sleepbot for IOS and Android.

Most people need at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but when you start to get by on just five hours of sleep, you accumulate a "sleep debt" of two to three hours every night. As you continue to get insufficient sleep, your debt grows. Sleep debt can impair your memory, concentration, and motor skills. Symptoms are even comparable to having a blood alcohol content level of 0.1 percent, making it risky to drive (let alone multitask while driving) or operate machinery.

Some long-term effects of sleep deprivation include attention-deficit disorder (ADD), depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, a decreased ability to heal, memory loss, and obesity.

The good news is that you may be able to make up for your sleep debt by getting more sleep within two weeks of accumulating that debt. After this time, your body cannot keep an accurate account of how much sleep you’re missing.

Sleep is a foundational building block for improving your focus. Coffee is fantastic, but don't attempt to replace sleep with coffee. Over time your body will rebel, and you could even create long-term health issues. When the body is sleep deprived, it doesn’t have a chance to recharge. Suddenly, you’re more likely to get sick and your stress levels will rise.

Establish a bedtime routine and set an alarm to remind yourself. Don't rely on your memory. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re not thinking clearly. Start simple and don't try to change everything in one day. If you’re married, work with your spouse to establish a good bedtime routine. If you get up a little earlier in the morning, your body will remind you about it later at night. Use this to your advantage. Don't wait until you’re exhausted and falling asleep on the couch. Go to bed, or at least go to your bedroom before you feel tired.

Here are some sleeping tips to make the transition to bed easier.

1. Limit caffeine intake and decide at what time you need to stop ingesting it.

2. An hour before bedtime, step away from the phone, turn off the TV, put down the tablet, and tuck the laptop away. Instead of using these forms of digital caffeine, read a traditional, physical book.

3. Dim the lights and get comfortable. Your body will respond better when given a chance to adjust.

4. Exercise during the day. Remember when you were a kid and you always slept really well after spending the day at the pool?

5. Try sleeping in a cold environment. Your body temperature rises when you sleep.

6. For the most part, more sleep is better sleep.

7. Follow the fifteen-minute rule. If you can't fall asleep within fifteen minutes, get up and do something relaxing such as reading, writing, meditating, or knitting. When you feel sleepy again, go back to bed. Otherwise, you'll make yourself more anxious and less likely to catch the sleep you need. This is very helpful if you know you’re stressed.

8. Write down your worries. This will help you sort out your thoughts and de-stress. If you don't have the answers, that's fine. Just think of answers tomorrow while you’re in the shower or on your commute.

To keep your energy level up and to feel less tired, avoid energy-draining activities in the evening. You’re not as energetic at night because you’ve been using energy all day long. It’s impossible to be at the top of your game when you’re low on energy. If you must, be sure to take a nap at some point or refill your energy levels by spending some time in silence.

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