Sleep is one of the most important keys to a healthy life. If getting good sleep has been an issue, you know that not getting those necessary zzz's can affect all areas of your life from your job to your overall mood to your health.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of adults reported that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. To put things in perspective, in 1910, the average person slept 9 hours a night. Recent statistics show the average person only gets 6.8 hours per night. For some of us, getting even 6.8 hours of sleep would be an absolute dream.
Gone are the days you could crash for 4 hours after a night out, pop back up to function for a full day of classes or work, hit a happy hour and a rinse and repeat of another late night with friends. Along with the many changes you experience as you age, your sleep cycle is also constantly evolving.
According to Dr. Leila Kheirandish-Gozal, the Director of Clinical Sleep Research at University of Chicago, in 'Do You Really Need Less Sleep As You Age?,' "The amount of sleep needed doesn't change, but the perception of sleep changes." It's important to check in with the habits you have been holding onto for the past few years and reevaluate how they might be affecting you now.
That second cup of coffee you have mid-day or that glass of wine you have with dinner might be the reason you find yourself staring at the ceiling at 3AM.
Many people look to quick fixes or a one-stop solution such as CBD products and for many, these products have proven effective however, improving your sleep cycle is really a culmination of a lot of different factors. Making sure you keep a balanced life will help improve your sleep cycle, the quality of sleep you are getting and it'll naturally boost your energy levels so you'll have less of those sluggish days we all dread.
5 Tips for Improving your Sleep Cycle:
1. Cut the Alcohol and Caffeine.
It's no secret that having a glass of wine or two can help with falling asleep. Without a doubt, it works. However, alcohol can alter your sleep patterns and the quality of your sleep. There's nothing worse than falling asleep quickly after a few drinks, only to wake up around 2 or 3 in the morning, restless. If you're experiencing this late-night alertness, time to put the wine down.
Caffeine is also a HUGE culprit of a poor sleep cycle. Cutting down, or cutting out the caffeine can do wonders for your sleep. According to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, "caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive effects on sleep." Make sure to, in the very least, stop the caffeine intake 4-6 hours before bedtime to give yourself a chance at a better night's rest.
2. Schedule Your Sleep.
Going to bed around the same time each night helps keep your body's clock ticking. Go to bed when you start feeling tired. You're getting the right amount of sleep if you're waking up naturally (that's right, waking up WITHOUT an alarm). Be smart with your weekends. If you're going out and staying up late, still work on waking up at your regular time and try a midday, 15-minute power nap to make up for the tiredness.
3. Work It Out.
Exercise, especially outside, is a great way to naturally boost your sleep cycle. The more rigorous your workouts, the better you'll knock out. Studies even show that exercise helps you dive deeper into the more restorative stage of sleep. Because exercise gives you more natural energy, make sure to schedule your workouts further out from when you're trying to go to sleep.
4. Step Into the Light.
When you wake up, try going outside or open your curtains to let that natural light in. Go outside regularly during the day and soak up that Vitamin D. At night, disconnect from the electronics (that means your TV, computers, and phones...). Studies show that people who use electronic devices at bedtime take longer to fall asleep and have disrupted circadian rhythms. Cutting out the TV before bed will allow your body to better produce natural Melatonin that will help you sleep deeper.
5. Get into a Sleep Routine.
Setting up a routine that you do every night before bed can help signal to your body that sleep is coming. Follow the same steps that lead you from being awake to asleep every night. For example: lock your doors, change into your bedtime attire, wash your face, brush your teeth, close the blinds, read a book or listen to a sleep meditation, turn off the light and allow your body to drift into a sleep state. Following the same routine each night will help your body and mind relax so sleep comes naturally.
Sleeping gifts your body with a time to heal, restore, and rejuvenate. Think of sleeping as your body's own time at work. While you work the typical 9(am) to 5(pm), your body works its typical schedule of 10(pm) to 6(am) to rejuvenate your system. Improving your sleep cycle is not a quick fix; it takes time and overall wellness. Start prioritizing and evaluating your eating habits, workouts and how you unwind. Your sleep cycle will thank you.