Because we live in a busy 24/7 society filled with stress, high pressure, and a go-go-go mentality, it’s not surprising that many of us frequently have difficulty nodding off when we’re supposed to. It’s easy to sacrifice sleep time when other priorities are pressing.
But lack of sleep can impact your productivity and quality of life. According to a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, 60 percent of the women surveyed said they only get a good night’s sleep a few times a week or less, and almost 50 percent admitted they’re so tired it interferes with daily activities.
Women are also more prone to suffer from insomnia than men – in a recent poll seven out of 10 women reported having it. Menstruation, pregnancy and perimenopause are additional sleep disruptors women have to deal with. So, it’s no wonder that, according to IMS Health, the amount of money we spend on sleeping aids has doubled since 2002, or that more than a third of women down three or more caffeinated drinks per day.
If you don’t want to be nodding off during an important meeting at work or napping at your desk in the afternoon, here are some tips to help you get a solid night’s sleep.
Hit the Sheets
Yes, you’ve got things to do. You have 50 e-mails to sort through, the dog needs a bath, and there are two loads of laundry that need doing before you can call it a day. Instead of feeling guilty about not doing everything on your list, hit the hay. Your chores can wait. Getting adequate sleep is more important – it’s as essential to your health as eating well and exercising. It is possible if you prioritize and determine what absolutely has to be done now and what can wait.
Do “Z” Math
While most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep a night, trying to constantly make up for lost sleep can make it difficult to determine how much your body needs. The best time to do the math is when you’re on vacation, with no hectic schedule and no nagging alarm clock. After a few days you’ll likely get to a point where you’re tucking in about the same time each night, awaking at the same time each morning, and feeling rested when you get up. That’s your optimal sleep length.
Once you’re back home, try to maintain that schedule. Studies show that missing just one hour a night can decrease your alertness by up to a third, and can have a huge effect on your mood and concentration.
Get Rid of Rest Robbers
You may have every intention of getting eight hours of sleep, but find yourself regularly being kept up by outside influences. The most common culprit is pain. Headache, backache and cramps can all rob you of sleep. If over-the-counter aids don’t help, ask your doctor for other options. Other common sleep stealers are easier to fix. Cut down on clutter, keep work-related reading out of the bedroom, turn off the computer, and kick your kids out of the bed. If your partner’s snoring is keeping you up, invest in a white noise machine.
Don’t Trade Sleep for Exercise
While you need sleep and exercise, you don’t need them back to back. Instead of waking up early to exercise, sleep in. You can cut back on internet surfing or tv time in the evening and get your workout then.
Think like a Kid
When you were young, you probably got plenty of sleep. That’s because you likely had a daily routine. Consider the following evening rituals:
- Set a bedtime and get there within 30 minutes of the deadline each night. Wake up at the same time each morning, even on weekends.
- Take a hot shower or warm bath. According to Stanford University, this has a calming effect that can help you sleep more soundly.
- Listen to a couple soothing tunes on your playlist or read a chapter from a relaxing book.
- Toast your tootsies. Put on socks before you jump into bed. A Swedish study shows that warm feet facilitates the relaxation process.
- Set the thermostat to 68 degrees, close the drapes, turn off all the lights and pull up the covers.
Benefits of Getting Your Zzzs
Getting a good night’s sleep keeps you healthy. Chronic sleep deprivation can raise your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. It can also compromise your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to viruses. Sleep can also make you smarter. Even though you’re asleep, your brain is not. Its busy sorting, processing and storing the information you absorbed throughout the day. Sleep is crucial for learning, memory, performance and cognition.
Finally, sleep deprivation interferes with hormone function that controls how efficiently your body burns fat. What does that mean? Recent research shows that there’s a relationship between lack of sleep and the inability to stabilize or lose weight. So get your beauty sleep and stay slim!
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