Your Sleep Game Plan
It’s not just about being in bed—it’s about getting good, quality rest. The science of preparing for good sleep is called “Sleep Hygiene” and there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Tips to try:
- Exercise at least 20 minutes every day. Working out in the morning or afternoon will make winding down easier, but working out late in the evening will rev you up.
- Keep a schedule—go to bed and get up at the same time every day. On weekends, don’t shift your schedule more than an hour. Sleeping until noon keeps you wide awake Sunday night, which makes your Monday morning class feel like a struggle.
- Beds are for sleeping—not homework, chatting on the phone or watching Conan. Hang out on your futon, catch Zs in your bed.
- Trade in your morning shower. Take a hot bath 90 minutes before sack time. It will soothe and relax your muscles. And when you get out, the drop in body temperature will make you sleepy.
- The big chill. Because sleepiness is related to that drop in body temperature, cool bedrooms promote better sleep. 72° is comfy for daytime, but the 60°s are better at night.
- Bye-bye nappy time. It feels good, but an afternoon nap sets you up for a bad night. If you’re too exhausted to function, nap less than one hour and only early in the day.
- Give it 20. If you don’t fall asleep in 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing—read a book, take a bath, do some yoga. Go back to bed when you feel sleepy.
- Free your mind. Thinking too much is bad for sleep. Make a habit of putting your to-do list on paper before hitting the pillow. If necessary, keep a pad and pencil by the bed so that you can write down thoughts and then let go of them to clear your mind.
- Take a lesson from Goldilocks. Your bed shouldn’t be too hard or too soft and you should have clean, comfy sheets. Find your personal level of comfort and stick to it.
- Learn to cope. Stress management works by relaxing your muscles and your mind. Dealing with stress is important. If stress hormones mount throughout the day, it can result in sleep failure at night. Try stretching, deep breathing, meditation, prayer, even counting sheep.
- Do the right thing. Evening coffee and alcohol both interfere with sleep. Smoking cigarettes can lead to sleep problems. So kick the bad habits. Also, eat right and avoid going to bed when you’re stuffed or starving.
- Be boring. A consistent bedtime routine sends powerful signals to your brain that prepare it for sleep. Do the same thing in the same order every night before bed.
Not possible. Caffeine or stimulants won’t fix sleep debt. Only pillow time will pay your bills.