“I’m so tired.”
How many times each day do you think those three little words to yourself? If you’re anything like most of the country, the answer is probably ‘too many’.
Sleep deprivation is all too common, thanks in part to our hectic social lives, plethora of family commitments, increased work pressures and ever-growing social media addictions. And while we all know that we should be getting more sleep, many of us aren’t aware of the consequences of prolonged sleep deprivation.
A consistent lack of sleep has been linked to poor concentration and slower than normal reaction times, serious health issues, mood fluctuations and weight gain, to name just a few. So it stands to reason that we should be looking for any and all ways to get more sleep, or – at the very least – ensure that the sleep we are getting is good quality.
It’s not always easy to know where to start though, so I’ve pulled together six simple changes you can make to your life that will help you beat sleep deprivation (or at the very least help increase the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep). Read ‘em and sleep!
6 Things you can do to Beat Sleep Deprivation
Regular exercise (at the right time)
A 2013 National Sleep Foundation survey found that people who exercise report significantly better sleep quality than those who don’t exercise. In fact, of those who categorise themselves as ‘vigorous exercisers’, 83% report ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good’ sleep quality, versus 76% of ‘light exercises’ and 56% of ‘non-exercisers’.
If you have a lot of trouble falling asleep, it’s recommended that your exercise doesn’t take place immediately before bedtime though. The endorphins released may hinder rather than help your quest for the perfect night’s sleep. So do exercise, but just at the right times.
A calming sleep environment
You know what they say about a cluttered desk relating to a cluttered mind? The same goes for your bedroom! If you’ve got piles of clothes on the floor, books strewn everywhere and you have to triple jump your way to the bed via the (ever-shrinking) clean spots, it’s time to tidy up!
A clear bedroom, comfortable mattress and pillow, and fresh air can work wonders for your mindset at bedtime, and the calmer you feel, the more likely you are to drift off gently and easily.
Technology free time
How many times have you gone to have an early night, only to find yourself, two hours later, neck deep in your cousin’s best friend’s housemate’s Instagram from 2014, just praying you don’t accidentally double tap?
Going to bed with your phone, tablet or computer is a bad idea. I’m a realist; I don’t expect you to shut yourself in a dark room with no TV or entertainment for two hours before bedtime every night, but I do think it’s a good idea to set some boundaries. Put down your phone a half hour before bed, and try reading or listening to an audio book when you go to bed. Better yet; spend some quality time with your partner.
Don’t eat dinner (or drink too many liquids) too late
Eating a big meal and then heading straight to bed is uncomfortable – plain and simple. This particularly goes for meals featuring spicy, heavy foods – these have been associated with acid reflux, which tends to kick in once you’re lying down. If you really have to eat right before bed, stick with something simple and light.
Not drinking too many liquids sounds like a no-brainer, but most of us don’t even think about it! That big cup of peppermint tea or huge glass of water may not make you feel uncomfortable at bedtime, but cut to two hours later when you’re jolted awake for a mad dash to the bathroom and you’ll be regretting it.
Avoid caffeine after lunch
Personally, I know that having a coffee after 2pm almost guarantees that I’ll be lying in bed, staring at the ceiling at 11pm (not so great when you’ve got a 5am alarm to contend with). Obviously everyone is different – and some people aren’t hugely sensitive to caffeine – but if it’s actually getting to sleep that’s an issue for you, cutting stimulants such as coffee, tea (excluding herbal teas), energy drinks and Coke is a great place to start.
Don’t let your pets sleep in bed with you
This one physically hurts me to type, but unfortunately (and I can speak from personal experience here) it’s the truth. Animals really seem to have a complete lack of awareness of what is appropriate proximity in the bed. And if your pets are anything like mine, their preferred sleeping position will be directly on top of you.
You pet isn’t going to love you any less because it has to sleep at the foot of the bed or even (heaven forbid) out in the living area. Unless of course it’s a cat, in which case it probably doesn’t like you anyway.
Do you find it difficult to get enough sleep? Share any sleep deprivation-beating tips or tricks that work for you below!