You wake up in the morning, slap your alarm clock and already feel angry at the world. Another night without sleep, another morning with work looming – you have to get there, alert and raring to go, in about an hour. How are you going to pull this off again?
Maybe you aren’t carving out enough time for sleep. Or maybe you try to give yourself eight full hours for sleep, but you can’t seem to wind down, drift off, or stay asleep. Whatever the case, you’re dealing with sleep deprivation, and it’s only going to get worse if you don’t make some changes now.
Your Body (And Life) Without Sleep
Skipping sleep or having a restless night affects you more than you think – the consequences go beyond simply being extra tired for a day. Here’s what happens when you’re sleep deprived:
- Both your short-term and long-term memory are negatively impacted.
- You find it difficult to think creatively or solve problems.
- Regularly being deprived of sleep can lead to chronic anxiety or depression.
- Sleep deprivation can cause car accidents, and the less sleep you get, the more likely it is you’ll have an accident.
- Your immune system is weakened, making you more prone to catch a cold.
- It’s easier to overeat when you haven’t gotten enough sleep because the “I’m full” signals don’t reach your brain as they usually do.
You may struggle through the day, get the work done, and crash by 8 p.m., but regular sleep deprivation is impacting your health and your productivity more than you think.
Upgrade Your Bedroom For Better Sleep
Ready to make some changes? Instead of forcing yourself to fall asleep earlier, which never works, start by making a few easy updates to your bedroom. Here are a few ways to make your bedroom more relaxing so you can get more shut-eye:
- Decorate with neutrals: Your bedroom isn’t the best place for bold, bright colours. Neutrals and muted colours are more calming, which can make it easier to sleep. If you want some pops of vibrant colour, use them in the throw pillows you stash in the closet at bedtime or a piece of art that you can’t see from your bed.
- Get a better mattress: Feeling like your mattress is too hard, soft, or lumpy doesn’t make you a snob – a bad mattress can make it impossible to get comfortable and can leave you achy in the morning.
- Declutter before bedtime: Even if the rest of your house is messy, try to keep your bedroom in order. Clutter may be causing anxiety without you even knowing it. Plus, leaving items scattered on the floor is dangerous if you stumble out of bed in the middle of the night to get a glass of water.
- Set the temperature just right: Sleeping in a room that’s too cool or too warm can make it hard to relax. If you find yourself chilly or sweaty during the night, try adjusting your thermostat before you go to bed. If you want the option of changing the temperature as the night goes on, put a fan or portable heater in your room.
- Don’t be afraid of the dark: It’s difficult for your body to get into the right circadian rhythm (the signals to your brain that it’s daytime vs. nighttime) if the environment you sleep in isn’t dark. Even a tiny bit of light from digital devices can make it difficult to fall asleep or to move into the deeper sleep stages. Put up blackout curtains to keep street lights and moonlight out, and turn your devices off or face them away from you.
When you have great sleep hygiene, your body is better able to relax, fall asleep, and stay asleep until morning. Eventually, you’ll fall into a rhythm, falling asleep around the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning.
More Ways To Get A Great Night’s Sleep
Getting your bedroom prepared for a restful evening is only one part of the “get a good night’s sleep” puzzle. Here are a few more ways to improve your sleep hygiene and sleep deeply enough to move into the REM sleep phase, which is the phase that has the most restorative benefits for the brain:
- Try not to nap, but if you must, keep it to half an hour. Napping can help you feel refreshed for the day, but it’s not a replacement for a solid night of sleep. Napping for a long time past midday can also make it harder to feel sleepy at night.
- Say “no” to caffeine and other stimulants as your bedtime approaches. Even alcohol can make it harder to fall asleep as your body processes it.
- During the day, get some exposure to natural light. Even 15 minutes outside is better than nothing.
- Create a bedtime routine that helps you wind down. Lower the lights, switch off the laptop and your phone, take a warm bath, and read something that’s just boring enough to not keep your interest for hours.
- Keep a close eye on your diet. Certain weight-reduction plans — such as keto — can affect your sleep patterns. You may need to make a change in order to regain a healthy sleep regimen.
The REM sleep phase is part of the regular 90-minute sleep cycle. Before you get into REM sleep, you’re in lighter sleep stages. Insomniacs and those who have trouble staying asleep have less of a chance of getting REM sleep, which can affect our health.
Start small – make two or three easy changes, assess how they impact your sleep and then decide if you need more of an overhaul. Not every tip or trick is going to work for you. The goal is to find the right combination of bedroom hacks and sleep-hygiene suggestions that get you ready for dreamland. Most importantly, if you think you have a genuine sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, it’s imperative you see a doctor. Only with proper treatment can you begin to recover.