How to Make Sleep a Priority

theSkimm on Sleep Anxiety and How to Fall Asleep Faster
Illustration: Michele Rosenthal
January 1, 2019

Lies we tell ourselves: Coffee is our best friend. We’ll catch up on sleep over the weekend. We’re tired but that’s life. Wrong, wrong, and more wrong. We’re here to talk about sleeping habits. Because better sleep means a better you.

Let’s talk about sleep, baby

You know the deal. Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep a night to be their best functioning selves. But work, life, and good TV that comes on after 9pm can always get in the way of that. Here’s the thing: lack of sleep can affect your health, your weight, your memory, your mood, your sex life, your happiness, your ability to drive, and the list goes on and on. Let’s change that. This year is about the Smarter You. And smart people sleep.

Here are some tips for getting that full eight hours:

  1. Be consistent. Try to create a routine. That means: go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day. Even on the weekends. We know, we know. Saturdays are for the zzzs. But it helps to stay on a regular cycle for your bod’s sake.

  2. Put down the cappuccino. Caffeine keeps you up, that’s why it’s great. But it’s also what can keep you staring at the ceiling all night. Experts say to stay away from things like coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate six hours before you hit the sheets.

  3. Fill up. Early. Listen, no one’s hating on vegging out. But eating a big dinner close to when you plan on calling it a night is a no-no. Your body is still digesting all that goodness. And digestion can cause discomfort and make it difficult for you to fall asleep. So try to eat dinner three hours before you go to sleep. Also, if you’re a normal human who loves eating and especially night snacking because again, normal, here are some options to fill you up...but not keep you up: yogurt, popcorn, bananas, cherries. Yummmastay asleep all night.

  4. Know your enemies. Hint: it’s light from screens. Blue light from a phone, computer or tv can block your body from releasing melatonin – the hormone that regulates a body’s sleep cycle. Give your eyes a break before bed. Trust us: you’re not missing anything on Instagram.

  5. Get your body on board. Physical activity can help tire your body out. In a good way. Typically, AM workouts make for PM dreams. That’s because working out raises your body temp and release endorphins. Two things you’re trying to avoid before bed.

  6. Chill out. Literally. You get better sleep when your room is between 60-67 degrees. So turn down the temps and bundle up.

Listen, we get it. Going to sleep is easier said than done. Here are some of the common complaints people have and how to solve for them...

Issue 1: I’m restless. I went to bed, but I’m just lying here with my brain on overdrive.

U up? We’ve long forgotten the guy who thought this text was cute. Now, the trick is forgetting all the stress that keeps you up at night. Here are a few tips...

  1. Get up and do something relaxing. You shouldn’t stay in bed awake for more than 20 minutes, because it tells your brain your bed isn’t the place for sleep. So get up. Read a book. Listen to a song that calms you. Then try to make friends with your pillow again.

  2. Meditate. Mindful meditation is a great technique to get yourself in the headspace for bed. Focus on your breathing and keeping your mind on the present. No drifting thoughts to past problems or future worries. Stay in the now. Keep your breathing steady. Think of something calming. And find your zen. Apps like Headspace can help you do this from the comfort of your bed. (*Psst: Skimm’rs get a free month of Headspace...if you’re into that sorta thing).

Issue 2: I’m a night person. Always have been. Always will be.

Hey, night owl. You may be right. But here are some tips for becoming more of an early riser. Just take it slowwwww….

  1. Step 1: Set a goal.What time do you wanna get up? Once you figure that out, you’re done. Jk that’s just the start.

  2. Step 2: Move it on up. Every morning, early up your wake time by a couple minutes. And every night, go to bed a couple minutes earlier. It could take you anywhere from days to weeks to get to your goal, but by the time you get there, your body should have adapted to this new cycle.

  3. Step 3: Don’t dawdle. Alarms are a b. No doubt about it. But when your alarm goes off, get up. Don’t snooze or linger in bed. (Pro-tip: Putting your alarm across the room or getting one that makes you do work to turn it off can sometimes help). Once you’re up, turn on the lights. Drink water. Have some breakfast. And own the day.

*PS: These are partner products, which means if you purchase, theSkimm may get something in return

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