The pressures and demands of our fast-paced world require us to be at our best day in and day out, to be energized and ready for whatever new challenges we may be asked to overcome. Mustering up the energy for those challenges, however, can be nearly impossible for those who have a hard time regularly getting the recommended seven hours of healthy sleep. If you're among their number, the answer isn't to make your espresso a double and keep trudging on - that sort of solution only perpetuates an unhealthy cycle that can put you at greater risk for disease or a debilitating accident. What you need is a regimen that can help you more consistently get the rest you need to take on the world.
Listen to Your Body
The scene is probably familiar to you - it's late and you're tired, but you can't go to bed until you complete a task of the utmost importance. You know that you're going to feel terrible in the morning, and you know that your work is suffering because of how exhausted you are. Just the same, you press on because whatever you're working on simply has to be done. While your dedication is admirable, the truth is that pushing yourself to press on well after your body starts screaming for sleep does nothing but keep you on a treadmill of exhaustion that'll lower your overall productivity as it wears away at your health.
We're not suggesting that you should give into your body's every whim - we do, however, believe that it should probably be listened to in terms of when you should rest and rise. Take a few days to observe your natural circadian rhythm and schedule your time to best suit it. Go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day, even on weekends - doing so will help prevent the grogginess that sabotages so many miserable Monday mornings. If you find yourself needing a nap during the day, try to limit them to 20 minutes or less so as to ensure that you'll still be tired when night falls.
This may take some time to get used to, and it may feel at the outset as though you're losing valuable hours that you could dedicate to your work or family. To combat this, keep in mind that sticking to a rhythm will eventually lend you more energy to work with during the day, increasing your efficiency and making tasks that seemed insurmountable suddenly feel much more reasonable. Be sure to let co-workers and loved ones know that it may take some time before you find the right routine, and ensure them that you'll emerge healthier and more energetic for it.
Though regular exercise offers a myriad of health benefits, perhaps none are as important as its encouragement of healthy sleep. What's more, this need not be a practice reserved for the highly mobile or athletic among us - as little as ten minutes of light exercise every day can help improve sleep quality. As with sleeping itself, it's important that you find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. It may take several months before you begin enjoying the full sleep-improving benefits of exercise, so don't get discouraged if you don't experience superior snoozing right away. Stick to your regimen and keep in mind that the work you're putting in is contributing to your overall health. Be sure also to not exercise too near to your scheduled bedtime - generally speaking, any workouts you undertake should be completed at least three hours before you turn in.
Consider Your Consumption
While caffeine is a great tool for those who need a boost to get through their day, this most popular of drugs has the unfortunate side effect of wreaking havoc on healthy sleep. Since it holds the potential to cause sleep problems up to 12 hours after ingestion, we recommend abstaining beyond your morning cup of joe or at the very least limiting your consumption throughout the day. Alcoholic beverages, meanwhile, may help you get to sleep but often interfere with your sleep cycle - meaning that your rest may not be particularly restful, even if you're down for the full seven hours.
Many foods also hold the potential to prevent healthy sleep, especially particularly spicy or acidic ones. Their proclivity towards causing heartburn and stomach issues can rouse the rest of even the soundest sleeper. If you must indulge, consider eating earlier at night - doing so will give your body more time to deal with any adverse effects caused by that five-alarm chili or tongue-burning pad thai.
Limit the Light
Blue light - the kind emitted by smartphones, computers and other electronic devices - has been found to be a significant contributor to our nation's growing insomnia epidemic. In How Do Blue Blockers Work, we discussed the benefits of blue light blockers for those who work the night shift or for those who simply can't tear themselves away from their technology until it's time for bed. It's just as important, however, to know which kinds of light you should seek out as it is to know which kinds you should avoid. Your circadian rhythm demands natural daylight during the waking hours, and as such it's important that you get as much of that as possible by, for example, spending time outside or working near a window. If neither option is possible, consider getting a light therapy box - it stimulates natural sunshine and can provide much of the energy that the rays of the sun would otherwise offer.
Though we all want to sleep well, the daily demands of our jobs and families can make it seem impossible to get the proper amount of healthy rest. In reality, good sleep can be achieved by just about anybody willing to put in a little extra time and effort - time and effort that'll be rewarded in spades with improved health and increased energy. If you'd like more tips on how to get those seven healthy hours, please feel free to send us an e-mail or to give us a call at (818) 232-2556 to talk about our blue light blocking glasses.