- Sleep allows our bodies to reset for optimal psychological and physiological functioning.
- Failing to get enough sleep can affect concentration, make us irritable, and keep us feeling fatigued until the next time of rest.
- Despite author Jennifer Still’s busy schedule, she still makes sure to get at least eight hours of sleep each night – here’s how.
The negative effects of sleep deprivation on our health are both physiological and psychological.
According to a paper by the NIH, sleep deprivation “increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.” Additionally, not getting enough quality sleep affects mood, performance, concentration, and our ability to form memories.
It can hurt your relationships and increase anxiety, too.
To avoid the negative effects of sleep deprivation, I’ve made it a goal of mine to get at least eight hours of sleep per night, and with very few exceptions, I’ve been able to make it a habit. Here’s how I get eight hours of sleep every day, even when life is hectic:
I stop drinking caffeine after 2 p.m
- Koichi Kamoshida/Getty
I’m a coffee addict and tend to sip cold brew or espresso shots throughout the day. However, consuming caffeine too late is a recipe for insomnia, so I’ve learned to keep it decaf after 2 p.m.
I not only avoid coffee after this time, but I also stay away from any caffeinated drinks like green tea and Diet Coke.
I wear comfortable pajamas
- Mike Coppola/Getty Images
I’ve found that wearing clothes that are too constricting or uncomfortable inhibits my ability to sleep well. Likewise, pajamas that are seasonally inappropriate could leave you too hot or cold in the middle of the night.
I take an evening bath
I find taking a bath to be a relaxing way to clear my mind before hitting the hay. Research shows that bathing before bed can help improve sleep quality.
But this may only work if you leave yourself some time to cool down from a bath.
According to Time, hot baths or showers affect your circadian rhythm, or the biological clock that tells your body when to sleep and wake. Heating up signals to your body and brain that you should be awake and alert. Give yourself one or two hours to cool down after a shower before climbing into your bed.
I put my phone down at least an hour before bed
Technology can negatively impact your ability to fall asleep and sleep well.
According to a study published in Applied Ergonomics, exposure to white and blue light emitted by phones, computers, and tablets can suppress melatonin levels in the body, thus inhibiting our ability to feel sleepy.
Most people are attached to technology all day, whether they’re staring at computer screens at work, watching Netflix for hours, or scrolling through Instagram. For at least an hour before I go to sleep, I make sure to put my phone face down on my bedside table and try not to pick it up again until the morning.
I supplement with magnesium
Magnesium, a common mineral in the body, contributes to health in many ways, including helping you to get more and better sleep.
A magnesium deficiency can even contribute to insomnia and other sleep issues, according to Healthline.
On the nights I feel like I might have a hard time falling and staying asleep, I take 800 mg of magnesium glycinate (beware of magnesium citrate, which could cause diarrhea), and it’s not long before I’m out like a light.
You can also get magnesium from foods like dark chocolate (64 mg per ounce), avocados (58 mg per medium avocado), and cashews (82 mg per ounce).
I use ambient noise
Whether you own a white noise machine or prefer sounds of the ocean, finding a sound that relaxes you can help you fall asleep faster.
I opt for either the rain sound option on my Google Home Mini or some mp3s I’ve made from a few of my favorite ASMR videos on YouTube.
I have blackout curtains
Not all people are disturbed by light, but I find that I can’t rest properly if the room is too bright. I use blackout curtains all year round, even in the winter when it’s darker earlier.
Since even small amounts of light can register on your retinas when you’re trying to sleep, it may be a good idea to invest in some heavy curtains that can ensure you sleep in total darkness.
I use the toilet before bed
- Diana Rui/Shutterstock
There’s nothing worse than being awakened mid-sleep by a need to empty your bladder. I stop drinking water a couple of hours before I turn in and make sure to visit the bathroom, too.
I avoid eating after 5 p.m.
- S. Alemdar/Getty
According to a study posted in Scientific Investigations, eating food at night close to bedtime can have “negative effects” on your ability to get good quality sleep, especially for women.
I practice intermittent fasting, which means I avoid eating after 5 p.m., and ever since I’ve started, my sleep quality has been much better.
I exercise in the morning rather than at night
- Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
While I do generally feel physically exhausted after a grueling session at the gym, I definitely don’t feel tired in a way that makes me want to go to bed.
In fact, I feel more energized and alert after a good work out, so I choose to work out in the morning. According to The Mayo Clinic, exercising at night may not work for those with sleep issues, because some people report that exercise makes it more difficult to wind down.