We’ve all spent a night tossing and turning and we know how it makes us feel the next day – exhausted, irritable and out of sorts. But continuing to miss out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly can also have some negative long-term effects. Sleep deprivation can raise your risk for chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease and infections. And because studies also show that a lack of sleep alters activity in some parts of the brain, it also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.
So, what can you do to sleep better? Here are a few sleep habits to try:
Keep a schedule. Stick to a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, even on the weekends.
Limit naps. It’s tempting to nap during the day if you’ve had a restless night, but limiting naps, or avoiding them altogether, will help you get your sleep back on track.
Restrict snacks. Avoid eating and drinking within a couple of hours of bedtime. A light snack is okay but, avoid alcohol and foods high in fat or sugar.
Stay active. Be sure to spend time outside every day when possible and get plenty of exercise, but not within a few hours of bedtime.
Set the mood. Use the hour before bed to lower artificial light from electronics, listen to soothing music or sounds and keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet for the night.
If you continue to have problems sleeping at night and are fighting daytime fatigue, talk to your doctor. They can test for underlying health conditions that might be getting in the way of your sleep schedule.
With enough sleep each night, you may find that you’re happier and more productive during the day.