Healthy Living

How to Get the Best Sleep: Making the Most Out of the Hour Before Bed

how to get the best sleepI didn’t need Mayo Clinic to tell me I was sleep deprived. The crankiness, forgetfulness, public napping and new obsession with Clear Eyes were all the signs I needed.

It’s been a long two months. Thankfully, the grisly work project that was keeping me up is over and I’m ready to sleep. Specifically, I’m ready to start claiming the same deep, rapturous Zzzz’s that I’ve been watching my cat Penelope enjoy.

I need to figure out how to get the best sleep. And apparently so does the rest of America.

The Sleep in America poll for 2011 revealed that 43% of Americans rarely or never get a good night’s sleep on weeknights. 60% say they experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night (i.e., snoring, waking in the night, waking up too early, or feeling un-refreshed when they get up in the morning).

It sounds like we could all use some tips for falling asleep faster and getting better sleep.

Before-bed rituals seem to either make or break the night, so let’s start there. Here’s how the experts say we can get the kind of sleep we’ve been dreaming about:

Exercise daily. “Fatigue is the best pillow,” Benjamin Franklin said. Often we exhaust our minds but not our bodies, and hit the hay with pent up energy. Regular exercise is a great way to earn sound sleep. (Don’t forget to consider the best time of day to exercise)

Be in the present. Stressing about the future keeps almost everyone I know awake at night. Even planning and reading non-fiction can stir the mind. In order to set tomorrow aside, Mayo Clinic suggests having a ‘worry book’ and jotting down what’s on your mind before bed, or as thoughts pop up while you’re trying to fall asleep. Then set it aside for the next day. Tim Ferriss suggests getting your planning out of the way much sooner—late afternoon or early evening. Hypnotherapy is another good way to clear an overactive mind before bedtime.
Sleep in the cool. I’ve often heard that sleeping in a cooler room (65-70 degrees) with a light sheet helps you fall asleep quickly, so I started sleeping with the fan on. Verdict: success. Not only did I fall asleep quicker but I slept sounder. P.S. It’s best to keep your tootsies covered.
Stage a gadget intervention. Let’s be adults. We know that electronics keep us awake into the wee hours, but we grip them to the last. According to that Sleep in America poll, 95% of study participants admitted to using some type of electronic amusement—television, computer, video game or cell phone—within the hour before bed at least a few nights a week. Baby boomers and Gen X-ers, Y-ers and Z-ers are all guilty. Hmm, could that have any correlation with the stat above?
Deploy scents. I tend to discount the role scents play in my life. But National Sleep Foundation CEO David Cloud (eerily fitting name) says a fresh or pleasing scent in the bedroom can make you look forward to going to bed. Hey, if a cologne cloud can pull passersby into Abercrombie & Fitch, a faint hint of relaxing lavender in the air or on the sheets could certainly pull you into bed.
Sit in a dim, quiet room. Gretchen Rubin says people who are busy playing with their gadgets put off going to bed because they don’t think they’re sleepy. Her recommendation: “If you insist that you’re quite wide awake at 1:00 a.m., test yourself: sit in a dim room with your head back for five minutes. Are you still wide awake?” (Her other tip: get ready for bed before you try this.)

The biggest challenge of ‘sleep prep’ is booking that extra hour to get ready for bed. It’s hard enough ending the day’s tasks in time to eke out 7-8 hours, and now we need 9?

But when I consider that I’m buying extra productivity tomorrow—not to mention evading weight gain, diabetes, crankiness and an early death—it suddenly gets easier to call it a day at 11pm instead of 12.

Related posts:

Achieving “Deep Sleep For Effective Weight Loss”- hypnotherapy weight loss

Better Sleep=Better Appetite-=Better Weight Loss

Rise and Shine! How to wake up refreshed

Are you in a ‘sleep debt’?

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Chelsea Ratcliff

Chelsea Ratcliff

Writer and expert

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