If you are looking to improve your health, take a look at your sleep. Sleep is often overlooked in favor of those new shoes or that new watch. Buying something is an excellent way to get motivated, but fine-tuning your sleep can help in many ways. Sleep is not sexy. But the results can be.
I included a study HERE that shows that adequate sleep helps your body lose fat during weight loss. While inadequate sleep contributes to you losing other body components while you lose weight. Suppose you want to lose fat and not muscle while you are on a weight loss plan. Focus on quality sleep.
Five things you can do to improve your sleep tonight.
- Sleep at a consistent time every night. This one is first because it is vital. If you are a shift worker, this one is very tough. My suggestion is to fight for your right to sleep on a regular schedule. That means working with your scheduler so you can rotate shifts as little as possible, and when you do switch, make the switches last as long as possible. If you are not a shift worker, you have no excuse. This one is easy to check off. You have to execute.
- Avoid substances that decrease sleep efficiency: caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, other stimulants. Most sleep doctors will tell you no caffeine after 2:00 pm. Many people believe alcohol helps them sleep, but studies show it does not. You may fall asleep faster, but your sleep is generally poor as your body works to process the ETOH in your system.
- Your bed is for sleeping. TV in your bedroom? Do you work in bed? Stop! Your mattress needs to trigger sleep. It is hard for your bed to initiate sleep when you use it as an office or a place to “chill.”
- Power naps! A power nap is 15 mins. Not an hour. People who nap daily struggle with sleep. If you feel like you need a rest, it is a sign that you are not sleeping well. Fix that. Napping during the day is a vicious cycle. End it. Do not adjust your day due to poor sleep. Changing your day adds to your sleep struggles.
- Try developing a sleep ritual. Do the same thing in the evening before you go to bed. Take a shower, have some decaf tea, read a book, listen to calming music, do some light stretching. Make it a practice, and your body and mind will learn that this activity means it’s time to wind down and rest.
Sleep is often overlooked, and it does not usually require medication to improve. Try the above suggestions for a week and see if your sleep improves.