4 Tips to Better Sleep

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Face it--you’ve been really tired lately, haven’t you? Each morning the alarm clock annoyingly rings “Wake up!” but your body hits the snooze as you cry in agony, “Leave me alone!” It’s okay, Womanistas, because we’ve all been there. It’s been reported that 71 percent of Americans are getting less than eight hours of sleep a night, with women more likely than men to get an insufficient amount of sleep before heading into work.

Without adequate sleep, many are at risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases. Changing your schedule might be something you’ve thought of to feel better each day, but what if you can get more energy on less sleep?

Lower those eyebrows because we are not kidding! Who doesn't want to kick grogginess to the curb and feel refreshed every day?

Sleep schedule

When we sleep at random times, our bodies can't seem to keep up during the day. We may start crashing sporadically--not knowing if we should be sleeping or staying awake. When this happens, try to create a routine by scheduling in sleep time and stick to it. If your job makes it hard to have a sleep schedule, try creating a fixed wake-up time. You can get to bed anytime and still reap the benefits as your body adjusts to this new wake-up hour, letting you rest all night through.

Maintain good habits

We all know a good workout can improve sleep, but only if you’re feeling the burn three hours before turning in. Exercising too late in the day delays the drop in body temperatures necessary for dozing off. Unwinding effectively can create a more restful sleep with more energy, so try reading something light, listening to music, or taking a warm bath. Avoid drinking caffeine close to bedtime--and when we mean close, we really mean, six hours before you rest your head on that pillow. Also, remember this: even though grabbing a nightcap helps us fall asleep faster, it also increases the number of times you wake up in the second half of the night.

Power napping

A quick snooze here and there is an awesome way to restore alertness during the day when you’re running on little sleep. Doctors recommend napping for no more than an hour way before bedtime, as anything longer or closer to your bedtime hour could create difficulties when nodding off—and trust us, watching infomercials won’t help. Sleep experts have discovered power naps ranging from 20 to 90 minutes can boost creativity, improve perception, stamina, motor skills and accuracy. They can also reduce stress and the risk of heart attacks, brighten your mood, boost memory and the icing on the cake--enhance your sex life, and aid in weight loss!

Environment

Sometimes we feel we’re exhausted because of too few hours sleeping, but most doctors will explain that interrupted sleep is more of a problem than we think. Your bedroom’s could be the culprit. Make sure your mattress is firm, but not hard. Pillows should support your head, neck and upper spine.

Experts agree temperature also plays a vital role in the length and quality of sleep. A setting between 60 and 65 degrees will encourage an effective snooze. Noise and light are also a factor. Consider earplugs or double-pane windows to block sound and to keep out light, grab some eye masks or dark curtains (these can be stylish!).

And Womanistas, please keep your smart phones away--that tweet can wait. Researchers have discovered using your phone before bed or while in bed can interfere with the length and quality of your sleep--creating a groggy you come morning.

If you’ve tried these tips but you're still having trouble sleeping and feeling lethargic during the day, it's worth exploring next steps. Check with your family doctor or visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for more information and a listing of clinics across the United States.

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