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Rest Eas-ier: Develop These Habits for a Better Night’s Sleep

Jan 20, 2016 12:28PM ● By Becca Newell
By Becca Newell

Sleep isn’t just important; it’s a priority. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, not getting enough sleep bears short- and long-term consequences on one’s health, from affected judgment, mood, and learning abilities to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Despite our busy lives (and our passion to “work hard, play harder”), hittin’ the hay isn’t just something to be welcomed following a long day of chores and responsibilities, it needs to become a prominent addition to our everyday to-do list—an activity we make time for, in the same vein as showering or eating breakfast.

Both the National Sleep Foundation and Mayo Clinic suggest various tips and techniques to ensure a better, deeper sleep, allowing one to rest a little more and hit the snooze button a little less.

1.  No screens before bed.

Refraining from bright lights in the evening can help to keep circadian rhythms in check. So, instead of using the time before sleeping to binge on a Netflix series or partake in some Insta-love or Twitter talk, retreat to the ‘90s and grab a book—or your favorite local magazine (insert shameless plug here!)—and read a little before nodding off.

2.  Avoid alcohol and large meals late at night.

That isn’t to advise sleeping on an empty stomach, but too much food before sleep can lead to discomfort from indigestion. And while alcohol might encourage drowsiness earlier on in the night, it can disrupt sleep later on.

3.  Exercise regularly.

Even if your daily routine doesn’t involve vigorous cardio, resistance, or weight training, some light exercise will do. Hitting the gym at any time of the day is fine, although some people struggle to fall asleep after exercising too close to bedtime. Whatever your schedule though, it’s best to not skimp on sleep for the gym!

4.  Establish a sleep schedule & stick to it!

Even on the weekends, going to bed and waking up at the same time helps to regulate your body’s natural clock, which encourages consistent sleep patterns with more restful snoozing.

5.  Harbor a positive sleep environment.

Keep your bedroom cool (the suggested temperature range is between 60 and 67 degrees) and free from any light or noise. Consider the use of eye masks, earplugs, fans, and other devices to block out unwanted distractions.

The recommended hours of sleep per night vary depending on age, but there is a general rule of thumb, reviewed regularly and published by National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council.

Preschool
(three to five years old)
10 to 13 hours

Child
(six to 13 years old)
nine to 11 hours

Teenager
(14 to 17 years old)
eight to ten hours

Adult
(18 to 64 years old)
seven to nine hours

Senior
(65+ years old)
seven to eight hours

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