When it comes to the compromises we make in our daily lives, cutting down on sleep has to be one of the most common ones. Whether it’s to work a couple more hours, squeeze in an early AM workout, or to binge one more Netflix episode, sometimes it seems worth feeling tired the next day.
However, ongoing sleep deprivation has serious health implications. It is a major mental health stressor, it can raise your blood pressure, it can mess with your metabolism and it can dull your thinking abilities. It’s also bad news for your skin, which performs most of its repair work when you’re asleep.
So, how to start racking up some extra hours spent slumbering? We have some suggestions.
Ever lain in bed in the middle of the night, aimlessly scrolling through Instagram or Twitter? Us too. But all those images, opinions and blue light will fire up your brain, giving it too much work to do.
If you can’t shake your social media habit, make it a daytime treat. You can also set a daily timer on Instagram, which will remind you once you’ve spent, say, 30 minutes on the app. If you must use Twitter at night, it offers a night mode, which cuts the amount of light emitted by the screen.
Essentially, reserve your biggest tasks for the morning. Deal with tricky emails, key meetings, and onerous tasks as early in the day as possible, so that by the time evening rolls around, your mind is settled and ready to power down.
It’s only with the advent of electricity that using brightly-lit nights became the norm. Switch to smaller bedside lamps, light candles and make your room darker to send a cue to your brain that it’s time to rest. Light-blocking curtains and eye masks can also help create deeper sleep.
Ambient noise can disturb the natural patterns and cycles of your sleep. Earplugs, whilst not the most attractive of nightwear, can really help by cutting out the creaking floorboards, low-level traffic rumbles, barking dogs and late-night conversations that can break up your sleep.
Going to bed at roughly the same time each night is one of the best ways to teach your brain that it’s time to snooze. Everyone has different needs, but aim to get at least seven hours of shut-eye at a predictable time most nights.
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