In the fast-paced, high energy world that we live in today, sleep is not viewed as a priority, or in some cases, it is disregarded all together. But what most people fail to realize is that proper sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Between busy schedules and difficulty falling and staying asleep, solid rest feels like a lost cause. However, the actions that we take during the day can prepare us for the optimal mindset and environment to master a healthy sleep schedule. Here are some helpful tips to achieve just that:
Widely used among the population, it may seem like a no brainer that caffeine inhibits sleep. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, and even chocolate are all stimulants that speed up your metabolism. Any caffeine consumed after 2 pm has been shown to negatively affect your sleep that night. Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours- meaning it still remains in your system for up to 6 hours after your last sip. The effect of caffeine is also cumulative. Consumption of over 300 mg of caffeine will drastically impede your sleep that night. After a poor night’s sleep, caffeine is relied on as a crutch, but is actually a hindrance in disguise, causing you to fail to get proper rest the following night. This creates a vicious cycle that must be broken.
To assess your dependency on caffeine, try to eliminate it from your diet for one week and see what happens. If you are used to more than 5 cups of coffee a day, then stopping cold turkey might have severe negative effects. Instead, wean yourself off of the caffeine by cutting it in half every day and substitute it with water or unsweetened juice. Each individual’s tolerance for caffeine is different as well. Caffeine sensitivity has been shown to increase with age, raises an individual’s blood pressure, and has some negative effects on the fertility of women. Once having established a healthy balance with sleep and caffeine, it is safe to integrate a small dose back into your diet. However, this may not be necessary if the individual is achieving proper rest.
Along with caffeine, another substance that can negatively affect sleep is alcohol. Most people confuse it with a sedative, but in reality it is a central nervous system stimulant in large amounts. Alcohol causes the sleeper to wake up mid REM cycle- every 90 minutes. A drink after work or with an early dinner is acceptable, but it is best if consumed 3 hours before bedtime.
Additionally, working out provides many benefits for a healthy lifestyle, and just like caffeine and alcohol, there is an optimal time to make a run to the gym. The best time to do any type of high intensity workout is between 5-7 pm. Most consider the morning to be the most beneficial time to move their body, but in actuality, one more hour of sleep will provide more advantages than working out early in the morning in a half-awake state. It is important to remain active during your day- taking time to socialize, work, and pursue hobbies. Ironically, boredom can lead to sleep loss. Like with most things, avoid any mentally stimulating activities or energizing workouts within 3 hours of bedtime.
An individual’s diet has a tremendous effect on their sleeping schedule as well. There is a strong linkage between obesity and lack of sleep. People sleeping for less than 4 hours of sleep per night are 73% more likely to become obese than those who sleep 7-9 hours. Fatigue is often confused with hunger, and people tend to overeat when they are tired. Instead of extra snacking, attempt to get extra shut-eye and see the difference in your health.
Finally, do not attempt to catch up on sleep all at once, instead, make up for it in segments throughout the week, going to bed earlier, as opposed to sleeping later. One of the most important tools for a great night’s sleep lies within the power of the proper pillow. The Sleep for Success pillow (found at www.ufdshop.com) provides a better night’s sleep for a better tomorrow. Securing 7-9 hours of sleep a night offers countless health benefits as well. General health immunity and longevity of life are increased, including a lowered risk for heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and
Alzheimer’s disease. Integrate these tricks into your sleep schedule, and immediately reap
the wonderful benefits of a true full night’s rest!”
Dr. James B. Maas and Lane A. Morris, Sleep research and sleep educator professionals.
Dr. Maas is a leading authority and international consultant on sleep and performance, is CEO of Sleep for Success. He is one of the world’s most sought after corporate, medical, academic institution and athletic team speakers.
Lane A. Morris is a research associate at Sleep for Success and is pursuing a career as a physician assistant and sleep educator.
Dr. James Maas, the New York Times best selling author, is a leading authority and international consultant on sleep and performance. Healthy sleep has been proven to be the single most important factor to peak performance, productivity and in predicting longevity. Knowing how important quality sleep is to every aspect of one’s life, we have developed the Dr. Maas Collection to give you the ultimate night’s sleep.