Are you always trying to get your 8 hours in, but to no avail? Getting enough sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle – you know it, I know it, we all know it. When coming up with a total health overhaul, we often aim to limit unhealthy foods, intensify exercise, and increase hours of sleep. Sleeping enough is essential for proper physical and mental recovery, because you may be lacking quality sleep if you don’t get in enough hours of sleep every night.
But how can you catch more Z’s? It’s often easier said than done. Getting more sleep may mean making some major changes to other areas of your life. Your lifestyle plays a major role in your sleeping patterns – you may be surprised as to how much it can actually impact your sleep.
The following lifestyle profiles describe characteristics of individuals whose lifestyle choices may be preventing them from getting enough sleep. Along with the profiles are suggestions and tips to increase your sleep hours without compromising your personality and doing the things you love. If you have trouble getting enough sleep, you may identify with one (or more) of these causes of sleep deprivation:
The Compulsive Caffeinator:
Most people can have a coffee in the morning and it won’t affect their sleep for that coming evening. However we all know that having a lot of caffeine (be it in the form of coffee or not) throughout the day, especially close to bed time, may leave you wide awake at night.
You may love coffee, so if cutting it out from your life completely will make you miserable, then it is not recommended. You may want to try to reduce the amount you drink in a day, or find alternatives. Decaffeinated coffee is the obvious choice, but another great alternative is herbal (non-caffeinated) teas. A warm cup of herbal tea, especially at night, can sometimes actually promote sleep (depending on the ingredients). There are so many delicious herbal teas available at Asian markets, specialized tea shops, and even your local grocery store. Chamomile is a great example of an herbal tea that is delicious, relaxing, and makes you sleepy.
The Partying Socialite:
Do you have a lot of friends? Do your friends like to hang out late at night? Whether alcohol is part of the equation or not, if your friends like to linger until the wee hours of the morning it may be difficult for you to break away. I personally find it a challenge to call it a night when I host a party and it goes longer than expected. I’ll find myself gradually drifting away, yet unable to kindly ask my guests to leave. I feel that it is rude, and I kick myself every time it happens (why didn’t I have them over earlier?).
You can still be the life of the party without sacrificing your sleep. You just need to be strategic about it, and plan ahead. Try to initiate earlier get-togethers – after a few hours together everyone will eventually get fed up. If you are the host of the party it’s easier to have better control over the flow of the evening. Serve dinner early for an incentive to have guests come earlier. Create an atmosphere that makes it feel late: close the curtains and use dim ambiance lighting. Pull out the booze and desserts early and when everything runs out people will have the impression that it’s almost time to go. And lastly, if you are truly dealing with close friends, when the time comes you can simply be truthful and tell them that you are tired and ready to call it a night.
If this doesn’t work for you it might mean it’s time to take a serious decision: what matters more to you, getting the amount of sleep you need or getting your late-night party fix? Unfortunately you may need to pick.
The Midnight Snacker:
Snacking too close to bedtime may lead you to be too full to lay down and sleep. It can lead to indigestion or other stomach issues like being bloated. You may not be able to put your finger quite on why you can’t sleep, but you somehow don’t feel comfortable enough to fall asleep. You may wake up frequently over the night or even wake up in the morning feeling full or nauseous.
If you like to snack or have a sweet treat before bed, you may want to reserve those snacks and treats for earlier in the day. How about a nice afternoon snack at 3pm? Or, have a slightly smaller dinner so you can enjoy dessert shortly after dinner. If you truly wish for a treat right before bed (or overnight), perhaps you can brew some cinnamon tea with some honey in it, or sip on some citrus-infused water. That way you can still feel like you are treating yourself, without putting your sleep at risk.
The Night Owl:
Some of us simply feel more productive at night. We will have a surge of energy crossed with a spark of genius, and suddenly we’re off. This often happens with students: they procrastinate studying or homework until the last minute, and then find themselves working all hours of the night. At night we suddenly think clearer and find less distractions. There is a high price to pay for all-nighters, however. Being alert, let alone functional, the morning after is nearly impossible.
How can one avoid studying into the night? It’s all in being organized and not procrastinating. There is a time for work and there is a time for play. If you play hard and long, at some point you are going to need to work hard and long. The best solution is to keep a constant balance between the two, so there is no need for an extreme cram session.
The Busy Brainer:
Do you have a lot on your mind? Do you find yourself crawling into bed after a busy day and just lying there awake, your brain going a mile a minute? If you have busy brain, you’re not alone. For many people, the moment they get in bed may be the first chance they get to just reflect about their day. The problem is when reflecting becomes obsessing, worrying about the future, or replaying something that occurred in the past. Sometimes you just want to tell your brain to shut up so you can sleep!
The good news is that there are actually techniques that exist to help you be able to control your mind. These activities revolve around living and being in the present. If you want to teach yourself to be able to silence your mind, you should read the book “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.
The Afternoon Napper:
Some people take long naps after work every single day. Whether you take an afternoon or early evening nap, you may be affecting your ability to feel sleepy early.
Try to avoid taking naps all together. It may be difficult at first, but it’s a vicious cycle: you take a nap because you are tired, but that leads you to go to bed late and feel low in energy all day until you take your (much-needed) nap again. If you get the hours of sleep you needs at night, you won’t feel the need to take regular naps anymore. Also, if on a rare occasion a nap is truly needed, limit it to 15 minutes. That is the perfect amount of time to wake up from a nap and feel energized, without overdoing it (which, oddly enough, sometimes makes you feel even more sluggish).