Sleep is one of the most elusive things in society today. The never seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. Many times I am going and going up until the last minute of my day. That is often the reality for many others.
However, studies are showing more and more that adequate sleep is a vital part of optimal health. The National Institute of Health, Harvard Medical School, and publications such as Health.com all provide adequate reasons why sleep is important and have studies to back them up. Being that I am not a scientist, I’d rather leave it to the experts to explain the benefits of good sleep.
That being said, there are a few things I have found help me to ensure that I get enough sleep. Setting an appropriate bedtime, avoiding screens for 30 minutes prior to bed, and avoiding conflict prior to bed, all tend to help prepare me for a good night’s rest.
Set an Appropriate Bedtime
Even adults should set a concrete bedtime for themselves. I find that if I don’t set a bedtime, I don’t always get there. My goal is to be upstairs by 9:45PM at the latest and to hopefully be asleep by 10:00PM. I’ve found that I need at least 7 hours of sleep to fully re-charge, and usually wake up at 5:00AM to start my day. That isn’t to say that I adhere perfectly to the sleep schedule above. I might go to bed later or sleep in some days. However, it is my rule of thumb so that I know when I need to be in bed.
Kill the Screens
Turning off or avoiding bright electronic screens helps me to get to sleep more quickly. I try to avoid my phone and computer for at least the last half hour of my day. My laptops have a free program called F.lux that changes the color of the screens after sunset, which helps as well. I usually find that if I am attached to my phone or computer right before bed, I tend to have a harder time getting to sleep. Avoiding the screens stops the brain from thinking it is daytime. If I could, I’d have all the lights in the house start to slowly dim starting at 9:30-9:45PM as well but, that would be a bit overkill.
It is usually best to avoid conflict right before bed. Talking about the budget, potential job changes, or complex emotional issues is not ideal 5 minutes before laying down to sleep. I find that conflicts end up waking me up significantly. Not only that but, after I lay down, I still am arguing in my head. My brain still tries to “fix” the issue, when it is supposed to be going into sleep mode. So, a good rule of thumb is to save emotional conversations for the next day if possible. Even better, encourage times of communication well prior to bedtime.
Having a set bedtime, killing the screens, and avoiding conflict are just three ways of preparing for a good night’s sleep. There are many other tips and tricks out there. I’d love to hear what works for you in the comments! Now I just have to go get ready for bed!