Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic, according to the CDC. Huge numbers of us don’t get enough sleep. It’s making us more dangerous on the road and less productive. And it’s making it harder for health professionals, including physical therapists, to do their jobs. Sleep is essential to recovery and growth. Make sure you get your 7-8 hours–yes, that much!–each evening with these tips.
Screen Free Zone
It can be tempting to bring your tablet or phone to bed to check your email or social media one last time. But the blue light emitted by screens can disrupt the production of melatonin, a chemical which helps regulate our sleep cycles, studies suggest. Plus, internet access makes it way to easy to stumble down a rabbit hole of endless link-clicking. Put your devices in a drawer or another room.
Avoid These Sleep Staller Substances
Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and should be avoided. Keep in mind that caffeine takes a long time to work it’s way out of your system–it has a 5-6 hour half life (half life means the time it takes two thirds of it to lose efficacy).
Create a Ritual
Rituals help ease your body into sleep. Try taking a bath or shower regularly before bed, reading a chapter of a book or flipping through a magazine. Over time, your body will learn to associate these activities with sleep, and you’ll be able to drift off more easily.
It may sound childish, but milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that causes sleepiness. Tryptophan is also found in turkey, so you could theoretically have a Thanksgiving style snack instead. Just don’t make it Thanksgiving size–big meals near bedtime make it harder to stay asleep.