It’s official: according to science, none of us are getting enough sleep.
We’re going to bed too late, getting up too early, ‘binge sleeping’ on weekends and we’re lying awake on weeknights, thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list.
It’s time to take back the night. But not in a crazy party way. In a delicious, floating off to dreamland way.
1. Consistency is Crucial
There are lots of quick and dirty tips out there for getting a better night’s sleep tonight: no caffeine after 3 pm, no screens after 6, and a little lavender oil in your evening bath, for starters. But to get better quality sleep in the long run, you’ll need to think bigger.
Your body loves routine, so if you get up for work at 7 am on weekday mornings but sleep in until 10:30 Saturday and Sunday, you’re throwing off your internal clock and will really struggle come Monday morning. So why not try a compromise – start your weekend mornings at 8:30 am. And hey, we just mean wake up, not necessarily get up – you can make coffee and bring it back to bed with a magazine!
2. Restructure Your Mornings
Many of us try to “catch up” on a sleep debt over the weekend, but research has shown that sleeping in 2 days a week actually makes us feel sleepier during the week. To fight the temptation, plan activities that get you out of bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Switch brunch meet-ups to a 10 am breakfast, find an early morning yoga class, or have your mom call you nice and early (don’t hang up!).
During the week, see if you can plan a little more in the evening so that you don’t have to get up at 5 am for a 9 am work start. Prep breakfast in advance, shower in the evening, and lay out your clothes the night before – all of these strategies add up to even out your early weekday and late weekend wake-ups.
3. Rethink Bedtime
Many of us have thought, “mmmm, I get to sleep in tomorrow!” but we don’t often think “Yay! I get to go to bed early tonight!” The old saying, “an hour before midnight is worth two after” carries a large amount of truth.
Your best quality sleep happens when your circadian rhythm is at its lowest point, and that’s usually between 10 pm and 5 am. So, even if you get a good 8 hours sleep, going to bed at 2 am and waking up at 10 am means you’re less likely to get enough deep sleep, and more likely to wake up during the night.
You don’t need to retire at exactly the same time every night, but try to plan your evening so that you have nothing to do but relax after 9 pm, then head to bed when that first wave of sleepiness makes you feel drowsy.
We may not realize it, but a good night’s sleep – every night – is as important as healthy eating and exercise to keep our bodies and minds functioning at their best. Just watch this TED Talk or this one.