“Breaking into high-quality sleep isn’t always easy, sometimes it requires making changes in your life like reducing stress and replacing bad habits with empowering new habits that bring encouraging changes in life,” says Rob Carter III, PhD, MPH, in a release. Carter, a Colonel in the U.S. Army who has has academic appointments in emergency medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, together with his wife Kirti Salwe Carter, FAIS, have written The Morning Mind: Use Your Brain to Master Your Day and Supercharge Your Life.
The Carters list eight ways to help maximize the chance of getting quality sleep.
- Block all sources of artificial light. Exposure to artificial light from television and smartphones can adversely affect our ability to fall asleep. Light exposure excites the nerve pathway between the eye and the brain that control hormones, body temperature, and other biological factors that play a role in falling asleep.
- Establish a consistent sleep-wake cycle. The human body will acquire an internal clock cycle to the new schedule and will ultimately react to internal cues to sleepiness at a given time.
- Dine at least 1 ½ -2 hours before bedtime. Eating foods particularly high in protein or carbohydrate too close to bedtime disrupts sleep, which leads to excessive stomach acid release. If you cannot avoid a nighttime snack, eat foods which help promote sleep. Cheese with crackers is an excellent snack that does not disrupt sleep.
- Try to limit your caffeine and alcohol throughout the day and avoid them close to bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it challenging to get to sleep or stay asleep.
- Imagine yourself achieving your goal of waking up well-rested. Creating the feeling of how you want your experience to be is a solid way to get your subconscious to take notice.
- Manage your daytime stress. Chronic daytime stress causes restlessness by making it hard to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Daytime stress and sleepless nights are interconnected.
- Embrace a routine of getting into bed and waking up at the same times every day. An essential component of a healthy sleep routine during the week is to maintain the same routine over the weekend.
- How can we manage our stress and regulate our sleep? Keep a positive attitude, accept things as there are, and avoid trying to control any aspect of life and work. Be assertive instead of aggressive, exercise regularly, and practice simple relaxation techniques.