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Demanding schedules and increased stress levels are keeping millions of Americans from getting their recommended eight hours of sleep each night. And so the “exhaustion epidemic” continues to grow.


What can you do to fight daytime drowsiness and improve your overall health? Adopting proper “sleep hygiene” habits is the first step. According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should integrate these practices into your daily routine:


* Stick to the same sleep schedule, even on the weekends – Keep your bedtime and wake up time consistent throughout the week. This helps regulate your body’s natural clock and allows most people to stay asleep longer.


* Develop a bedtime ritual – A relaxing, routine activity such as reading a book or stretching right before bed helps separate sleep time from daytime activities that can cause excitement, stress and anxiety, making it more difficult to fall asleep.


* Create a calming sleep environment – Make sure your bed is comfortable, the room temperature is not too cold or too hot, and the lighting is minimal. It’s important to associate your bed with sleep, so leave the electronic devices and distractions on the other side of the bedroom door.


* Eliminate unwanted noise – Don’t let a dripping faucet or the next door neighbor’s blaring stereo steal your sleep. Noise levels as low as 40 decibels or as high as 70 decibels can keep us awake at night. Try blocking out unwanted sounds with earplugs or use “white noise” such as a fan or air purifier.


* Cut out alcohol – Think twice before you drink a glass of wine before bed. When your body metabolizes alcohol, it disrupts the second half of sleep, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night.


If you want to improve your memory, boost creativity, reduce anxiety and increase your life span, ditch the coffee to fight fatigue because there’s simply no substitute for a good night’s sleep.

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