Take small steps in your day to improve sleep

Your daily habits set the tone for a restful night

Americans’ daily routines create some less-than-ideal conditions for a good night’s sleep, according to The National Sleep Foundation’s 2022 Sleep in America® poll.

Many of us can do a better job at good daytime behaviors and evening routines to help improve sleep. Celebrate National Sleep Week and learn how you can better catch those Zs.

Bask in the sun. The right light exposure helps manage circadian rhythms, your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. According to the survey, nearly half of Americans say they’re not exposed to bright light indoors in the morning and afternoon.

Have your morning coffee outside or taking your dog for an extra walk to get bonus sunshine.

Get moving. Light physical activity can go a long way in improving your sleep health.

  • Ride your bike to work or to run errands.
  • Use breaks to walk outside or around your work area.
  • Skip the elevator and go for stairs.
  • Get up earlier to make a 30-minute workout part of your routine. If you’re at Appliance Park, squeezing in a workout before or after work is more convenient with the YMCA’s fitness facility on campus – The Y @ Work.

Maintain mealtime consistency. Your body’s food clock and sleep clock are closely linked. The National Sleep Foundation’s Poll shows that having consistent mealtimes is significantly associated with healthier sleep.

Just as suddenly switching on a bright light in a dark room can alert and even startle you, eating dinner late into the evening tells your body it’s in awake mode.

Eat a light dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime to slowly ease into sleep mode. Steer clear of nightcaps and heavy meals at night.

Cut back on caffeine — or skip it altogether. The caffeine you’re drinking to perk up may be draining your sleep time.

Curate a bedtime routine. Teach your body that it’s time to go to sleep.

  • Keep your sleep schedule consistent. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, even on weekends.
  • Turn out the lights. Dim light at night helps regulate the circadian rhythm. Blackout curtains and blinds eliminate light pollution, creating a dark environment that’s primed for sleep.
  • Stop looking at screens. Electronic devices emit blue light and prevent the natural production of melatonin—the chemical that tells your brain that it’s time to sleep. Consider removing TVs, tablets, phones, and laptops from your bedroom or simply turn them off at least an hour before bed.
  • Gentle stretching or meditation can reinforce signals that it’s time to fall asleep. Even smells can help calm your senses and reduce stress. Try diffusing essential oils in scents like lavender.
  • Create a comfy environment for sleep. A dark, cool bedroom that is free of distractions is the ideal place to get a good night of sleep. Invest in cozy bedding, keep the room temperature between 60 to 67 degrees, and use a sound conditioner or a small fan to subdue nearby sources of noise.

Making changes to your daytime habits and your evening routine not only sets the stage for better sleep, but also leads to lower stress levels and better overall health.


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