As Daylight savings approaches, we will be granted one more hour of sleep but how do we really take advantage of this new hour to get the most out of our sleep? Sometimes we might sleep, but still, wake up restless and even more tired than the night before! Here are some tips you can incorporate to help you get the most out of your sleep.
First, it is important to have a sleep schedule. As we plan our daily lives, it is important to schedule your sleep. By going to sleep at the same time every night, this will help regulate your body’s internal clock. (Note that this also includes waking up at the same time every day) This includes holidays and weekends. Yes, sometimes it might feel good to sleep in on your days off but in the long run, it makes it harder for your body to become regulated and will mess up your body’s natural sleep pattern.
Second, be mindful of your light exposure. In the morning time, embrace the sun and its natural light. Since melatonin is naturally controlled by light exposure the light helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. When your brain senses darkness it secretes more melatonin and the opposite when there is light, which increases your alertness. Therefore, try to include light in the majority of your day, specifically sun-light if you can. While we love our phones, it is important to turn off electronic devices (televisions included).
Thirdly, be mindful of what you eat throughout the day. Yes, a late-night coffee might help you tackle a last-minute assignment or task, but the caffeine will rev you up but cause difficulty when it is time to relax. In addition, be mindful of your late-night alcohol consumption. Although it might initially help you relax and unwind, while you are asleep it disrupts your sleep cycle/circadian rhythm diminishing your quality of sleep. In addition, alcohol has been found to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns
Finally, do not just try and hop in bed and go to sleep, but allow your body to go through a relaxation process. Stress and racing thoughts can keep you up at night. Here is a deep breathing exercise you can use to help you relax, unwind and clear your head before you sleep.
- Lay down in bed and close your eyes.
- Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
- Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
- Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.