The process of getting healthy doesn’t start in the morning when your feet hit the floor, it actually begins with a good night’s sleep. My favorite health habit is lying in bed sawing off zzz’s, which you must admit is a lot easier (and more fun) than exercise or eating healthy. UNLESS you have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep. Then you might rank it at the bottom of your efforts to get healthy.
How do you feel after a poor night’s sleep? Do you sleep well most nights? Hard to believe that something you do while unconscious is so important, but sleep is critical to your overall health.
A healthier sleep can be achieved by doing the following:
- Stick to a schedule by going to bed and waking up the same time, even on the weekends. This helps regulate your body’s circadian clock, which in turn helps you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
- Try a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoiding bright light helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety (which can make it more difficult to fall asleep).
- If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
- Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Worried about whether it’s OK to exercise during the evening? Studies show that for most people, exercising close to bedtime doesn’t appear to adversely affect sleep quality.
- Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow. The life expectancy of a mattress is about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Check your pillow and make sure it is free of allergens that might affect your sleeping.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals in the evening. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep. If you can, avoid eating a large meal 2-3 hours before bedtime. Instead, try a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you’re still hungry.
- Slow down before bed. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing some kind of a calming activity, like reading. Avoid things that may disturb your sleep. That means phones, a tablet, computers or a television that emit blue light. Don’t read with backlit devices. Tablets that are backlit are more disruptive than e-readers that don’t have their own light source.
Author: Marie Economos, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Trumbull County, Western Reserve, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewer: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, email@example.com