When it comes to creating an arsenal of stress-reducing tools, it doesn’t matter how much yoga you do or how much herbal tea you drink—your efforts aren’t worth much without a solid night’s sleep.
Don’t underestimate the power of shuteye to improve your outlook and mood, strengthen your immune system, and give you the energy you need to get through the day without getting frazzled. Here are some of my favorite tips for improving your sleep.
Get 30 minutes of cardio. Better sleep doesn’t start the minute you hit the sheets, but the minute you wake up. Research has shown that exercising for at least 20 minutes most days of the week can help improve your sleep..
- Get 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise in during the day, whether it’s a run, brisk walk, weight-lifting session. (Find out how to make walking work for you.)
- Sign up for fitness class or training session to keep you accountable.
- Aim for a morning or afternoon workout—exercising too late in the day could have the opposite effect on sleep.
Fight after-dinner drowsiness. Falling asleep after dinner can make it much harder to go to sleep later that night and affect your sleep cycle. If you find yourself getting drowsy well before your bedtime, don’t slump on the couch; get up and do something that engages you physically and mentally.
- Call a friend to catch up.
- Go for a walk.
- Fold the laundry, do the dishes, or any other physical chores that keep you up and moving.
Set a go-to-sleep alarm. You use one to wake up—but getting up is that much harder if you don’t go to bed when you should. Do yourself a favor and set an alarm on the back end of your day to help curb the impulse to stay up clicking late into the night.
- Decide when you want to be in bed and ready for sleep.
- Set two alarms: One to cue the wind-down (turn off the TV, begin your bedtime routine); and another 30 minutes later to let you know it’s time to hit the hay.
Create a blackout effect. Keeping your room as dark as possible helps send the signal to your brain that it’s time to shift into sleep mode.
- Look at your room at night. Are streetlights visible? Are the lights from digital equipment casting a glow near your bed?
- Install blackout shades to keep street lights and headlights out.
- Turn glowing alarms and phones off or away.
- Slip on an eyemask.
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