There is now a lot of scientific evidence that we are not getting enough sleep and not only is that making us grumpy in the morning, it is costing the global economy billions of dollars in lost productivity.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control has estimated that about 30 percent of the American population doesn’t get enough sleep.
Researchers at Harvard University said that in 2011 this cost the American economy over $60 billion a year!
On an individual basis we know that we just aren’t at our best when we don’t sleep well and while we can get by for a while on little sleep, it can have a disastrous impact on our health and our work in the long term.
So getting a better night’s sleep is a good thing, right? Here are five ways to get a better night’s sleep.
1. Watch Your Coffee Intake
Coffee may be the elixir of the modern workplace, the answer to getting up for work in the morning and maintaining our mojo throughout the day, but coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks can be disastrous when it comes to interrupting or preventing our normal sleep patterns.
Caffeine is a stimulant which makes it a great starter, but a poor finisher.
If you are having trouble getting to sleep you might want to reduce your caffeine intake, especially later in the day.
It takes hours for the caffeine from your last cup of coffee to get out of your system, so stop drinking coffee before lunch or just after. This will prevent it from getting in the way of your sleep time at night.
2. Lower Your Alcohol Blood Count
A cool drink at the end of the work day or a glass of wine with dinner is a great way to relax. But if you have more than one of either, then it may affect your sleep.
Drinking so much that you pass out doesn’t count either, because that type of sleep is short and not really that restful. And you will pay an even worse price in the morning when your body tries to recover from the alcohol.
The fact is that alcohol in moderation is a great relaxant and social lubricant, but it is a poor sleep aid.
3. Get Your Exercise in Early
Exercise throughout the day is another fine way to train your body to slow down when you need it too. But you have to careful when you exercise if you want to get a good night’s sleep.
Going to the gym the first thing in the morning is a perfect way to start your day. You can shake out the physical and mental cobwebs and stretch your body and your mind. Going for a walk at noon is another good idea because it gives your body a break from sitting all day.
Exercise later in the day though, especially at night, is not usually a good thing because it actually sends a signal to your body to wake up just before you want to go to sleep.
4. Learn to Relax
The pace of life and work is often frantic and frenetic. To preserve our sanity and to get a good night’s sleep, we need to find healthy ways to relax at the end of our day at work.
It might be reading your favorite book or magazine, watching a little TV, playing video games, or interacting with your friends on Facebook. Anything that will help your heart rate go down and your body and mind to slow down is a good idea.
Some people do a little yoga in the evening or listen to soothing music just before bedtime. Find something that helps you relax so that you are ready to go to sleep
5. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
The National Sleep Foundation says that sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness.
There are many elements of good sleep hygiene including having a clean and quiet place to sleep. Avoiding noise and lights as much as possible is another good idea as is avoiding smoking, eating or drinking alcohol just before bedtime.
Some people like their bedroom to be cooler in order to sleep while others like to be hot, so find one that works for you.
Another thing that many people have added to their sleep hygiene is to make an effort not to talk about work or have serious discussions late at night. This might prevent your mind from totally relaxing when it’s time to sleep.
Some others have also found it helpful to get rid of the television in their bedroom. It becomes too much of a distraction, especially at night. And quite frankly, who wants to go to sleep with the thoughts and images of the late night news still running through their heads?
You spend roughly one-third of your life sleeping, so it makes sense to practice getting good at it. What tips do you have for a better night’s sleep?
(Photo Credit: Meditation Music)