(Family Features) While a healthy lifestyle requires a balanced diet and exercise, sleep is another pillar of overall wellness that is both essential to your health and success, and often overlooked.
By simply making small changes to your daily routine you can improve your quality of sleep. Follow these tips from Dr. Sujay Kansagra, Mattress Firm’s sleep health consultant and director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program, and get on your way to better rest and a healthier life.
- Manage your sleep time. Rather than trying to accomplish everything on your to-do list at the expense of sleep, reverse your approach. As the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep each night, make sure to set aside the time needed for a full night of rest.
- Stay on schedule. Try to keep your bedtime and wake time consistent on both weekdays and weekends. With time, your brain and body will acclimate to these set times, but until then, rely on an alarm – not only to wake in the morning, but to keep you from staying up too late at night, too.
- Find a routine. A routine performed 20-30 minutes prior to bed every night can subconsciously ease your brain into sleep. Unwinding with a book, taking a warm bath or meditating are all ways to slow your mind and transition toward peaceful rest.
- Brighten up the morning. Getting plenty of bright light in the morning helps keep your sleep timing on track, particularly if you wake up early. Make opening the drapes and blinds your first task each morning.
- Ditch the clock. Fixating on the time can create stress and keep you up at night. Instead, set your alarm, turn your clock around and forget about the time.
- Get moving. Research shows that exercise can act as a natural sleep remedy, often leading to a more sound slumber. However, if you exercise late and have difficulty falling asleep, consider moving your workout earlier in the day. The increase in body temperature from exercise tends to be prolonged, sometimes making it hard to fall asleep.
- Kick the caffeine habit. Morning caffeine can linger in your system until it’s time to sleep. Coffee, tea, dark sodas and dark chocolate are the main offenders for most people.
- Pay back debt. If you are chronically deprived of sleep, allow your body extra sleep time to make up for the loss. In these cases, even 8-9 hours each night may not be enough. Allow your body to catch up then commit to more consistent sleep patterns in the future.
Find more resources to help improve your sleep, including tips on how to purchase a new mattress, at DailyDoze.com.