Sleep plays an essential role in physical health, brain function, and emotional wellbeing. How you feel when you’re awake is partly due to your quality of sleep. While sleep may seem like a long stream of unconsciousness, your body is actually replenishing nutrients and processing information that your brain was too busy to analyze during the day.
In addition to following the microHabits of Health, like getting between seven and eight hours of sleep each night, here are some tips to improve overall sleep habits to start the new year off right:
- Stick to a schedule. Sticking to the same sleep schedule helps the body find its natural rhythm and settle into a regular cycle, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up. An irregular sleep schedule can cause irritability, drowsiness, and mood swings. It’s important to stick to the same schedule on the weekends as well—your body has a difficult time adjusting if your weekend schedule is drastically different from your weekday routine.
- Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and promotes alertness. It can also affect the quality of your sleep, so avoid caffeine after around 2pm.
- Relax before bedtime. Take a bath, or listen to soothing music to activate relaxation and prepare your body for bed. Try to avoid electronics, including texting and using the computer.
- Create an optimal sleep environment. Your bedroom should be dark, quiet, and at a moderate temperature. Use white noise to mask ambient noises.
- Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. Sometimes the anxiety of not being asleep can make it harder to fall asleep. If you’re still awake after a half hour of lying in bed, get up and do a relaxing activity until you start to feel sleepy.
If you often feel tired during the day or don’t wake up refreshed, it may be helpful to keep a sleep diary to track these patterns and consult your doctor for professional advice. Keep in mind that quality sleep is a pillar for achieving Optimal Health, along with nutrition, hydration, and exercise.
Ask me, your Independent OPTAVIA Coach, about other ways to improve your sleep this year.