Who doesn’t feel great after a long restful sleep? You awake recharged and ready for anything. But the truth is, that kind of restful night—filled with quality sleep—seems rare these days. Maybe it’s because of the pandemic and the wrench it threw into so many of our schedules. Perhaps it is the state of the world or some personal dilemma. Whatever the reason, when our sleep patterns get disturbed, the effects ripple through our waking lives in big ways. We’re less productive, less likely to work out and, for lack of a better word, we’re grumpy.
It doesn’t help that sleep deprivation ages your skin, decreases your sex drive and adds fat to your midsection. So what’s a rest-deprived guy to do? Reset your personal sleep routine. Humans, quite scientifically, are creatures of habit. to the National Sleep Foundation, according to actively cultivating a healthy sleep routine makes it easier to get the sleep you need on a consistent basis. Follow that routine and the norm becomes falling asleep quickly and sleeping deeply through the night. With each constant evening, the routine gets reinforced, ensuring stable sleep patterns over time.
Get the Light Right
One of the easiest ways to get into “rest mode” is to adjust your exposure to light. When you’re exposed to light, your brain stops producing melatonin, the sleep hormone. This makes you feel awake and alert. And while the debate on whether blue light from our devices effects our sleep is still being questioned, there’s no doubt that doomscrolling or binge watching keeps your mind racing while you’re trying to relax. Consider shutting down your screens an hour before shuteye.
Ease Anxiety by Journaling
Dr. Kannan Ramar, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, says that you can put fears, worries and other troubling thoughts to bed by writing them down before you try to fall asleep. She suggests taking 20 minutes to jot down to-dos for the next day or simply to write out what you’re worried about in order to release them from your mind. Another tactic? Use that time to write out a few things you’re grateful for.
Reclaim Your Bed
Some people can lounge in their pajamas all day, working and snacking from bed and have no problem. But if your sleep could be improved, reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex. And get dressed as soon as you wake up. Dr. Don Mordecai, national leader for mental health and wellness at Kaiser Permanente, says that it’s incredibly important to develop habits that prepare you for healthy sleep. He says you want to retrain your brain to think of your bed as the ultimate place for relaxation and rest.
Work It Out
It sounds simple: exercise and you’ll tire yourself out. But getting active has a lot of scientific benefits that lead to better quality sleep. According to Dr. Ramar exercising outdoors boosts your oxygen levels, which helps calm you while vitamin D from sunlight helps regulate circadian rhythms to keep your bedtime consistent and help you sleep more soundly.
Rewire Your Metabolism
Digestion and metabolism also play a role in wakefulness and sleepiness. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that, in animals, circadian rhythms shifted to match food availability. The scientists suggest that fasting for about 16 hours (say, on a flight and until the next local meal time) will help reset your internal clock and help reduce jet lag when traveling across time zones. For local sleep disturbances, try a 16-hour fast by eating an early dinner (around say 4:30 pm), and then avoiding food until tomorrow morning (8:30 am). Once your sleep is back on track, try to maintain regular breakfast and dinner times to support consistent circadian rhythms, aiming for 12 hours between the two meals.