Does it take you longer than normal to fall asleep? Are you easily awoken in the night? Do you have trouble falling back to sleep once you are awoken, or wake up in the morning tired and wishing that sleep worked better?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are most likely sleep deprived.
Being sleep deprived can have serious long-term mental and physical health consequences, such as weight gain, heart problems, an inability to focus, and more.
Here are seven simple hacks that you can use to improve the quality of your sleep, starting tonight:
The electromagnetic field (EMF) emitted by alarm clocks, cell phones, computers, wireless routers and televisions are known to negatively affect the quality of our rest.
Recommendation: Unplug or turn off all gadgets in the bedroom while you’re sleeping (especially those near the head of your bed).
2. Put a curfew on blue light emissions.
The artificial blue light from televisions, computers, smart phones and tablets suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making the body think it’s time to be active, instead of asleep.
Recommendation: Refrain from using electronics right before bed and especially in the middle of the night.
3. Change directions.
In ancient Indian and Chinese cultures, it’s known that the proper orientation of your bed can enhance the quality of your sleep.
Recommendation: When possible, sleep with your head facing south. Keep the head of the bed a couple of inches from the wall and as far away from the entrance to the room as possible.
4. Meditate earlier.
You've probably heard that meditation can be one of the most effective natural cures for sleep deprivation. But it works even better when practiced at the right times.
Recommendation: Refrain from meditating right before bed, as some styles of meditation can significantly boost your energy levels, and therefore hamper your ability to fall asleep. Instead, meditate in the late afternoon or early evening, and ideally no later than 3-4 hours before going to bed.
5. Avoid late night binges.
Eating late at night stimulates digestion, which is physical activity. And because the body can’t actively digest and rest at the same time, bad sleep will be the result.
Recommendation: Eat lighter meals earlier in the evening, and avoid caffeinated foods and beverages at night.
6. Cut back on the libations.
Alcohol causes dehydration, which leads to sleep deprivation. Therefore, drinking late into the evening will not only keep you up at night, but even if you get to sleep, you will likely wake up the next morning feeling exhausted.
Recommendation: Experiment with drinking alcohol earlier and/or cutting back on the amount of alcohol you consume.
7. Become more scheduled.
The body’s natural sleep cycle responds best to routines. Going to bed at the same time every night will trigger deep sleep much more often than maintaining an erratic schedule.
Recommendation: Go to bed around the same time every night.
Honorable mention: Lower your expectations.
Don't expect the quality of your sleep to improve dramatically overnight. Expecting it to do so may stress you out, and stress works against your interests.
Recommendation: Allow the quality of your sleep to slowly adjust to your new bedroom etiquette over a longer period of time. Also, please check with your doctor before adjusting any medications.