Right before bed isn’t the only time you can set yourself up to sleep well
Have you heart of “sleep hygiene”? This is a term for the habits you have that either support a good night’s sleep, or get in the way of one. Maybe you listen to music or read a book before you fall asleep (helpful!). Maybe you watch the news or get on social media before bed (not so helpful!). Falling asleep in front of the TV might help you “turn your mind off,” but it’s not setting you up for high quality sleep during those precious first few hours.
But right before bedtime isn’t the only time you’re in the position to make a difference to your sleep hygiene. Things we do throughout the day also have an impact. So if you focus on some of these tactics in the daylight hours, you can set yourself up for a good night’s sleep once it’s bedtime. Try some of these tips:
Keep the stress to a minimum
This might be obvious when you’re lying in bed at night, worrying: Stress can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. It might not always be entirely under your control, but do what you can to stay away from stressful situations throughout your day. Maybe avoid a phone call with that friend who tends to upset you when you talk. Maybe find a calmer way to talk to your partner about finances. Approach your day with more peace, and this will translate to your state of mind when you’re climbing into bed at the end of the day. Need some help with this one? We’ve got some stress management techniques to recommend.
You know it’s good for your physical health to get regular exercise, but this moderate exertion will also help you sleep. It’s best if you do this higher level of activity in the morning or early afternoon. Being too strenuous later in the day might rev you up too much to fall asleep when you want to. If finding time is always a struggle, we’ve got you covered: Check out these 6 Ways to Fit Exercise into Your Daily Routine.
Wake up at the same time every day
It’s tempting to let your self sleep in when you have a day off, or on the weekends, but this disrupts your internal clock. It’s better to stick to a regular schedule as much as you can. Sleeping till noon will make it that much harder to fall asleep that night.
Avoid the naps
Some people can nap without affecting their ability to fall asleep at bedtime, but if you’re like most people, you want to avoid this. The truth is, if you’re getting a good, restful 8 hours, you probably shouldn’t need to nap. If you do want a little daytime rest, try to limit it to 15 or 20 minutes (set that alarm), and finish your nap by early afternoon so you’re not interfering with your evening sleep schedule.
Soak up some vitamin D
Exposing yourself to natural light, and especially sunlight, helps to keep your body clock right, so your internal cues tell you to be awake during daylight hours. Keep to this, and once it gets dark your body will start to wind itself down for the hours of sleep ahead.
We hope you take these suggestions to heart, so that you’re in the position to get more sleep, feel more energized, and have the focus you need to do your best in school or at work. Try some of these strategies for a week and see if you notice a difference! (The bags under your eyes may start to fade, too.)
The Harris School of Business offers this weekly blog to support our students in healthy living as well as productive professional lives. Visit us online to learn more about the range of programs we offer at campuses in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.