Catching up on sleep is essential for our overall well-being and productivity. While not all of us can maintain a 100% consistent sleep schedule each night, it is still important to make sure we’re getting between seven and nine hours a night in order to not fall behind on any more precious Z’s. Life happens, though, and different pressures and events can prevent us from getting an adequate amount of sleep each night. If you’ve found yourself in this situation lately, try these methods to help get yourself back on track.
Why Aren’t You Sleeping?
Most of us are likely here because we want a quick fix or remedy to help mitigate our sleep troubles, but it is first important to address why exactly we may find ourselves struggling to get sufficient sleep each night. Various factors can contribute to inadequate sleep, such as: personal choices, caffeine, alcohol, shift work, electronics, and sleep disorders. Narrowing down the root cause(s) of your sleep disturbances can help in picking the right remedy and get you closer to more restful nights.
Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Consistency is key for good sleep, regardless of where you are. Your brain recognizes pre-sleep activities, so by creating a familiar environment it helps you fall asleep faster. This can be done while traveling long distances or even if you’re down the street housesitting. For instance, if you’re struggling to make yourself comfortable in an unfamiliar bed and it’s messing with your ability to fall asleep, then bringing along something familiar can provide an added sense of comfort such as a Nodpod BODY weighted blanket or a pillow from home. If you have nothing tangible to help in this scenario, try your best to follow your routine as usual such as showering in the evening and reading before bed. If you’re used to the white noise of your fan at home, then try looking up white noise sounds on your phone to listen to as you fall asleep. Anything to try and mimic your usual routine at home can help.
Adjust Your Bedtime by 15 Minutes Earlier
It can seem daunting to completely revamp your routine, even if it is for the better, so try taking things one step at a time. Instead of relying on extended sleep-ins, gradually adjust your bedtime by 15 minutes earlier each night. If you make continual and gradual shifts in your timing, it can be much easier to adjust your body clock than by trying to go to bed at 10pm when you’re used to going to bed at 1am without any prior preparation. Even if it seems slow-moving, the gradual adjustment to your sleep schedule can do wonders in terms of getting you on a more consistent and healthier routine.
Take Short, Energizing Naps
Even if we think we’re well-rested, we can still find ourselves fighting off a case of mid-afternoon sleepiness. If you find that your fatigue and lethargy is interfering with your productivity and your daily activities, it could be worthwhile to take a nap if you’re able to. Taking brief naps during the day can increase alertness, improve memory and mood, enhance job performance, and reduce stress. The emphasis on these naps, however, is short. Taking shorter naps are more likely to give you the benefits you expect to receive from a nap. Longer ones are more likely to leave you feeling groggy and disoriented as naps over 30 minutes effectively interrupt a sleep cycle and this disruption is often the root cause for post-nap sluggishness.
Falling behind on sleep may seem innocuous and something that everyone does on a regular basis, but being too cavalier about it only serves to harm your overall sleep quality and general health. The effects of sleep deprivation have been well documented and reported on, but this is not to say that it’s too late to adjust your sleeping habits for the better. While it may not be an overnight cure-all for a routine of sleepless nights, makinging incremental and gradual shifts to your general sleep routine can work wonders for changing your habits for the better. Even if you have been in this cycle for years, it’s never too late to start sleeping better.