A good night sleep is wonderful! And I’m talking about deep, uninterrupted, 6-8 hours of shut eyes. As good as that sounds, though, it’s only a fairy tale and a seemingly unattainable feat to some people.
Research has shown that there’s a very consistent correlation between quality of sleep and workplace productivity. In a nutshell, the better your night sleep is, the more useful and productive you’ll be at work the next day!
If you’re reading this, then chances are that sometime ago, you tried laying on your bed – after a long, hard day of non-stop hustling – only to find yourself tossing and turning from one end of your bed to the other in a futile search for a deep refreshing sleep.
Perhaps you’ve even tried reporting yourself to your physician who instantly declares you an insomnia patient, prescribing a “truck-load” of medications you MUST take every night – turning you into a rebranded junkie!
But, you know what? Your sleepless nights may just be the result of bad bedtime habits. Here’s a quick rundown of those seemingly slick but deleterious habits that ruin your sleep and how you can get your freedom back!
1. An Undefined Bedtime Routine
So, here’s the deal – your body loves routines! Your body needs “signals and triggers” that says “it’s time to sleep.” Unfortunately, if you have no defined set of activities you do before bed, you’ll keep your body guessing and that’s bad for sleep.
FIX: Create a bedtime routine commencing at a regular time (say 8pm). Such activities may include brushing your teeth, taking a shower etc., but it must be done at a regular time to “train” your body’s biological clock. The result? You’ll be sleeping a whole lot better once you hit the bed!
2. The CEO Syndrome
Credit: The Week
Have you ever met really busy, I-can-do-it-all CEOs who want to become billionaires within a decade? Then you must have noticed something – they’re always at work! Even while feigning to be asleep, you find their PCs, PDAs and smartphones right on their bed, waiting to blare at the next email notification or IM alert. Such people are available “24/7,” as they say! This, of course, results in BAD sleep — every night!
FIX: Live one day at a time – billions of dollars won’t do you much good if you’re dead! Create and stick to well-defined weekly and daily schedules that accommodate realizable goals and allow for 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep daily. Also, before sleep, write down all tasks you need to accomplish the next day – it helps to ease your mind.
3. A Full Tummy
A late-night snack can be fun and all… but if it’s heavy, you’re inflicting a great deal of punishment on your body. Instead of all your systems to relax and reset while you’re asleep, your digestive and circulatory systems will be busy with food digestion and that will affect the soundness of your sleep.
FIX: Hunger doesn’t help sleep. So, if you must eat late, keep it to a light and healthy snack, some fruit juice and lots of water. That should set you up nicely for a sound and refreshing sleep.
4. Wrong Exercise Patterns
If you’re in the habit of skipping exercise, with the excuse of being crunched for time, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Apart from the fact that regular exercise makes you look great and smart, it also improves sleep and mental health.
FIX: Research shows that 2.5 hours of moderate to rigorous exercise per week improves sleep quality by 65 percent. Try carving out 5-10 mins for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or 15-20 mins for cardio workouts on daily basis. However, try and keep the exercises to the morning or late afternoon because working out close to bedtime has been shown to negatively impact sleep quality.
5. Exposure to Blue Light
Credit: Business Insider
Blue light is the light emitted by your smart phone and PC. Interestingly, studies reveal that blue light can suppress melatonin production and damage vision – so, if you’re in the habit of Facebooking into the wee hours or working in bed with your Laptop, you may have a hard time falling asleep.
FIX: Set a time limit for electronics usage, then shut down and put away all devices 30 mins – 1 hour before hitting the bed… your body will thank you for it!
6. Indiscriminate Caffeine Consumption
Although coffee seems like the ultimate, round-the-clock energy hack ever known to man… it’s not! It can actually do you more harm than good if consumed indiscriminately. According to Dr. James Maas, the author of Sleep for Success, coffee can stay active in your system for 6-10 hours, during which sleep is practically impossible.
FIX: Limit caffeine consumption to mornings and early afternoon (before 2pm) to give your body ample time to get rid of the stimulant. That said, you might as well quit caffeine altogether. A good balance between regular exercise and adequate sleep is the key to maintaining an energetic and productive lifestyle.
7. Sipping a Night Cap
Some folks take alcohol as a mild sedative, hoping it would help them sleep better – but guess what… it doesn’t! Alcohol is one sneaky substance that helps you sleep for a while and then switches sides… ramming up your system and ruining deep, restorative sleep.
FIX: If you must take alcohol, then keep it light and do it no sooner than 2-3 hours before bedtime. This gives it some time to wear off before you hit the bed. Then again, you might as well NOT take it at all… and allow your body to rest in peace!
A Final Word…
If you decide to get rid of all these unwholesome bedtime habits, then I can assure you of one thing – you’ll be sleeping a whole lot better… very soon. So, why not give it a shot, right?