On average, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is extremely important because it allows the body to repair, recharge, and regrow. Getting high quality sleep is also important for keeping our immune system healthy. Even a small amount of sleep deprivation increases the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, and is associated with an inappropriate elevation of blood sugar levels in the morning. Lack of sleep also causes carb-cravings as the tired body searches for quick energy. Have trouble getting enough sleep? No worries, check out these 5 easy ways to a good night’s sleep:
Turn Off Screens
If you are able, turn off all electronics at least 1 hour before bed. Blue light emitted by screens suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin, making it difficult to fall asleep. Many phones also have a dim light setting that can be scheduled for evening hours, and there are applications that can help, too.
Adjust the Thermostat
Bedroom temperatures that are too warm can interfere with the body’s natural set point and can affect the sleep quality of REM sleep. Researchers believe that the ideal sleeping temperature is around 65° F (18° C). Turn down the heater at night in the wintertime and cozy up with a warm blanket, instead.
Cut the Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that can reduce both the quantity and quality of sleep. Caffeine can circulate in the body anywhere from 8-12 hours, so have your last cup o’ joe or caffeinated tea by early afternoon.
Establish a Schedule
Similar to how you get hungry at the same time each day, your body likes to go to sleep and wake up around the same time. Sticking to a bedtime, even on the weekends, helps set your body’s internal clock and establish a natural sleep-wake cycle. How many more minutes of sleep do you need to reach at least 7 hours or your ideal amount? (example: Need to add on 60 minutes to reach 7 hours of sleep). Backup your current bedtime by 10 minutes tonight, and try to go to bed at this new time every day for a week. Continue to back up your bedtime by an additional 10 minutes each week until you reach your ideal sleeping amount (10 minutes per week for 6 weeks is 60 minutes of extra sleep!).
Form a Ritual
A calming bedtime ritual such as dimming the lights, reading a book, doing bedtime yoga, or having a soothing cup of chamomile tea can help signal to your body that it’s time for sleep. Try to start this ritual 30 – 60 minutes before you’re scheduled to go to bed. Set a timer on your phone or watch if you need a reminder. Get ready to drift off…
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Reviewed by Kelsea Hoover, MS, RDN
on March 10, 2020. Kelsea is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.