April 25, 2017
Are you tired of wishing you could sleep until noon during the week and feeling like you missed half the day sleeping in on the weekends? You may think you have no control over how you feel when you wake up, but the truth is, you have a lot of control over your sleep schedule. Following these four simple tips can help you make the transition pretty easily.
This might be the most important and chronically misconceived item on this list: Don’t get in bed unless you are falling asleep!
Lying restless at night actually conditions you to expect not to sleep in bed, and stimulates wakefulness, preventing you from falling asleep even if you are tired. You might have noticed the effects of this at a hotel, if you struggle to fall asleep at home but easily fall asleep in a bed that’s not your own. So, if it’s late and you can’t fall asleep, relax anywhere but your bed until you’re drowsy enough to fall asleep.
Sunshine and warm weather make it easier to bite the bullet and get up early, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel refreshed and vibrant while doing so. Establishing a sleep-wake routine will condition your body into waking up and falling asleep at your desired times so that it eventually becomes instinctive.
Maintaining the same sleep and wake times every day is extremely doable, but takes a deliberate effort, often involving heading home at 11 p.m. while your friends are still out, or even setting an alarm for 7 a.m. on Saturday.
Beyond falling asleep and waking up at the same time regularly, you can influence your sleep routine throughout the day. For example, if you have trouble falling asleep at night, be sure to eliminate caffeine six hours before bedtime.
Exercising in the morning not only gets you out of bed and in shape but also contributes to better overall sleep habits. New York Times writer and exercise expert Gretchen Reynolds explains, “exercise may affect how and when we move, even when we aren’t exercising.” Exercise creates a more stable circadian pattern, which will certainly benefit your sleep routine.
Additionally, delegating exercise to the morning wakes you up and induces good feelings as it triggers the release of adrenaline and endorphins. And you don’t have to do it alone! Exercise provides a way to spend quality time with a friend while holding each other accountable for both mentally and physically showing up.
Napping is in vogue, and has become more socially acceptable in the U.S. No longer a sign of laziness, we’re beginning to accept that our country’s chaotic work culture demands more rest. It’s not uncommon to become lethargic during the day and crave a nap around the 2 p.m. slump. It may even feel like neglecting our need to sleep is poor self-care.
If you cannot function without a nap, only nap for one sleep cycle, aka a “power nap.” Power naps last for 20 minutes with the intention for you to wake up after a light sleep, so you wake up feeling rested. Beware of falling asleep for any more time than this, as you might wake up from a deep sleep three hours later thinking, “what year is it?”