A good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your mind and body. One study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that the quality of your sleep is much more important than the quantity — that is, if you want to feel rested. And we all want to feel rested. So, what can you do to improve the quality of your sleep and get the rest you need?
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
This, above all else, is crucial to a good night’s sleep. Your body knows when it’s time for bed. Generally, you want to go to bed when you feel tired, whether that’s at 8 p.m. or 1 a.m. Whenever your body tells you it needs rest, you should make a habit of going to bed then. The more consistent you are, the better your sleep will be.
WAKE UP NATURALLY.
Jolting yourself awake with an alarm or radio isn’t doing your brain and body any favors (it can be stressful on the body and even elevate blood pressure, which is not good first thing in the morning). If you do need an alarm, consider a wake-up light. Wake-up lights mimic the sunrise, slowly brightening the room, waking your body in a natural, gentle way.
KICK THE SCREEN HABIT.
You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: Looking at an electronic screen — a TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone — before bed is detrimental to sleep quality. Light from these devices is disruptive to your brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which helps regulate your circadian rhythm, and screen time before bed can throw off normal SCN function. Put your excuses for staying up too late to bed. Say no to “one more episode.” And all those emails? They can wait until tomorrow. Not getting enough quality sleep is harmful to your mental and physical health.
When you get into the habit of following these three tips, you’ll find yourself feeling rested and refreshed in no time.