Time spent sleeping is time well spent. Like a battery, the body must recharge to perform optimally. Cell phone owners know this. They charge that baby to 100 percent every night. But how many of us are that diligent with our bodies?
It all starts with falling asleep faster. We know we should do it, but we stay up anyways. Quit paying the price! Get serious about falling asleep with these 10 tricks and you'll notice the difference all day.
1. Respect Bedtime
It almost sounds too easy, but perhaps the single most effective route to predictable sleep is to consistently fall asleep at the same time. A dedicated sleep habit prepares the mind and body for bed time. It's just that simple.
No matter what time you choose, the key is to stick to it. It's not always easy to get on schedule at first, but soon enough your body will naturally acclimate.
To help smooth the transition, try getting up at the same time every morning as well. Irregular sleep patterns may be the norm for the young, but as we age it gets harder and harder on the body.
Chances are you're not doing anything all that special after midnight anyway, so turn off the TV and call it a night.
2. Implement A Pre-Sleep Ritual
Developing a pre-sleep routine is a time-proven way to avoid that staring-at-the-ceiling feeling. You probably already have a ritual, even if you barely notice it while it's happening. Maybe you shower, brush your teeth, floss, or read. Who knows—maybe you actually count sheep.
The trick is to understand the ritual for what it is and attach it to sleep. Especially if you already go to sleep at a defined time, a ritual tells your body and mind to get ready to rest.
You'll become drowsy as you progress through it, because your body knows what's coming.
3. Make Your Bedroom A Place to Sleep
It's called a "bedroom" for a reason. Keep it sacred!
Laptops and smartphones are the latest offenders, but we've all been guilty of letting extracurricular activities contaminate the bedroom. So draw the line once and for all. The bed isn't a place to work, check e-mail, watch movies, work out, or snack.
What's the risk, you ask? Outside stuff keeps you thinking when you should be sleeping. Modern technology in particular has a way of chipping away at a solid bedtime and disrupting a pre-sleep schedule.
The answer, in three words: Turn. It. Off.
4. Have Sex!
OK, there's one extracurricular activity worth letting into the bedroom.
The benefits of sex before bed are virtually endless. It enhances the sleep cycle, promotes deeper sleep, and increases drowsiness - especially for men. Women know what I'm talking about.
Sex also makes you feel good. Life is full of constant worries and never-ending problems, but sex clears the slate and makes life seem more promising. When you're calm and happy, it's easier to sleep.
5. Work Out
Daily physical exercise—just not in the bedroom!—is a great way to end the day ready to sleep like a baby. Sleep is the original workout recovery, and a great way to have more in the tank tomorrow is to drain it today. Don't hold back—give yourself something to recover from!
The gym is a great place to get exhausted, but there are countless other activities that can be done in and around the house on a moment's notice for little to no cost.
You could run, jump rope, do yoga, walk the dog, ride a bike-you get the picture. And just like sleep, getting in a workout routine makes the transition to an active lifestyle much easier.
6. Find Your Quiet Noise
New parents know that calming tunes and a background of white noise help babies drift off to sleep. Especially if you live in a noisy cityscape, the same solution could help you drown out all the distractions.
A simple online search will turn up endless files of calming noises like rain, waves, leaves rustling in the wind, or birds singing. They may not be free, but you already spend a third of your life in bed (hopefully). Don't sell yourself short! Most smart phones can also access applications featuring all types of noises to help you sleep.
This may be the one way your smart phone can help you sleep!
7. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Our bedrooms are often far brighter than we realize. So as part of your bedtime ritual, make yours as dark as it can be. Shut down the computer, track down those blinking lights you never notice until they're driving you crazy, and draw the curtains.
This may sound compulsive, but it really helps. Your body associates darkness with night and sleep. Use it to your advantage!
8. Deep Breathing
Truly deep breathing requires use of the stomach rather than the upper chest. Try this for yourself right now by lying down and placing a book on your stomach.
With each inhale, your stomach should lift the book, and with each exhale, the book should lower.
Using your diaphragm and other deep abdominal muscles to breath is how the body was designed. Yes, your belly will look bigger, but nobody can see your bulging gut in bed.
Think of it this way: You already breathe this way when you're asleep!
Tonight, when you're in bed, focus on the rise and fall of your stomach like it's the only thing happening in the whole world. It'll help get your body into the physical mechanics of deep sleep and push everything else out of your mind.
9. Warm Water
Just the sound of a warm shower or a filling bath is relaxing. It stops your mind from racing and is an easy last stop before crawling into the sack.
Physically, a shower is a great way to get warm and cozy. But the mental component is just as important. Attach it to your nightly ritual and see if you can actually feel the day melt away.
10. Cut Down On Caffeine
It's not just the baristas who are to blame. The bottomless coffee pot is a fixture in many offices, so much so that it can be hard to even keep track of how much caffeine we drink over course of the day.
Even if you barely notice the rush anymore, caffeine stays in your system longer than you probably think—especially for men.
If your mind is still running after dark, it's time to get strict. Use caffeine to wake up, but keep it in the morning.
Don't drink coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks in the afternoon, and definitely not at night.