Follow-Up Article to Sandee LaMotte CNN Article Series | September 27, 2017
Good news! There is something that you can do about your sleep deficit.
You can train your brain to seek better sleep just as you train it to learn and accomplish other skills. Here are some tips to ensure better sleep habits.
One of the first tasks is to set up your sleep environment and establish a relaxing bedtime routine. It’s that repetition that will train your brain to recognize that its time to relax and sleep.
Start with the bedroom. Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable and the room is cool: Between 60 and 67 degrees is best. Don’t watch TV or work in your bedroom; you want your brain to think of the room as only for sleep.
Be sure to eliminate all bright lights, as even the blue light of cellphones or laptops can be disruptive. If that’s hard to accomplish, think about using eye shades and blackout curtains to keep the room dark.
Try to eliminate disturbing sounds as well. Earplugs or white noise machines can be very helpful, but you can create your own with a humidifier or fan.
During the day, try to get good exposure to natural light, as that will help regulate your circadian rhythm.
Develop a routine
Then, establish a bedtime routine you can follow each night. Taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or doing light stretches are all good options.
Food and drink to avoid
Other suggestions for good sleep include avoiding stimulants such as nicotine or coffee after midafternoon, especially if you have insomnia. Alcohol is another no-no. You may think it helps you doze off, but you are more likely to wake in the night as your body begins to process the spirits.
Exercise is key to promoting good sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, as little as 10 minutes a day of walking, biking or other aerobic exercise can “drastically improve nighttime sleep quality.”
Follow all these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to closing your sleep deficit and improving your health.