It’s 7:00 am.
The (dreaded) sound of your alarm pulls you from your sleep just long enough for you to hit snooze.
Lying in your bed, you feel everything but awake: you’re groggy, annoyed, and exhausted. At this point, you start to wonder how you can stretch your sleep just five more minutes (showers are optional, right?)
After a few moments, you get up, resigned and reaching for coffee.
If waking up feels like you’re rising from the dead – you’re not alone.
A study published in Sleep Review magazine found that 57% of Americans hit the snooze button and feel tired after a night’s sleep.
Waking up tired impacts how you feel and perform during the day.
A whopping 79% of participants said that a bad wake up experience can ruin their day and affect concentration, work, and well-being.
To get a good night’s sleep and conquer your day, you need to optimize both your quantity and quality of sleep.
Sleep better: Quality vs Quantity
A long sleep doesn’t always mean a restful sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for young adults and adults.
Unfortunately, according to the Sleep Health Index, even though the average American now sleeps 7.3 hours per night, 35% rate their sleep quality as “poor” or “only fair.”
Sleeping well enough is just as important as sleeping long enough. The sounder and deeper your sleep, the more refreshed, calm, and energized you’ll feel the next day.
Here’s how you can improve your sleep quality and make the most of your sleeping hours:
1. Eat less before bed
This study found that a late dinner and a late night snack lowered sleep quality in healthy people.
For women, eating a complete meal close to bed can:
- Increase the time that takes you to fall asleep.
- Extend the time that takes you to go into deep sleep.
- Increase the number of times that you wake up during the night.
- Lower your sleep efficiency.
In other words, a late dinner will make you lay awake at night.
The solution? Have a light early dinner and avoid any night time snacks.
2. Eat the right things before bed
According to research, eating these foods (not too close to your bedtime of course) can help you sleep better:
- Fatty fish
- Tart cherry juice
- Barley grass
- Asparagus powder
3. Create a calming evening routine
Create a night-time routine that disconnects you from the day’s demands and lowers your stress. Take the time to discover what relaxes you and make it a priority before bed.
You can include:
- Sipping a warm tea for sleep
- Reading a (paperback) book
- Taking a bath
- Spending time with your partner
- Listening to a podcast
- Reviewing your plans for the next day
4. Make your room the perfect place to sleep
Your room should be sleep-friendly.
Arianna Huffington turned her room into a “slumber palace” for this purpose – complete with a canopy bed, dimmable lights, and black out curtains.Here’s how you can do the same
Here’s how you can do the same:
- Use your bed exclusively for sleeping (don’t bring your laptop to bed!).
- Make sure your room is completely dark at night.
- Adjust the temperature towards the cooler side, around 65°F.
- Power down screens at least one hour before bed.
- Use an app to reduce the blue light coming from your devices, like f.lux.
- Consider using blue light blocking glasses shortly before bed.
- Make sure your mattress and sheets are comfortable.
5. Try relaxing sleeping techniques
If your thoughts run wild as soon as your head hits the pillow, try calming your mind with these exercises:
- 4-7-8 Relaxing Breathing technique: Inhale for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds.
- Muscle relaxation: Tense and relax each muscle group in your body, one at a time. Start with your feet and work your way up, one part of your body at a time (feet, calves, thighs, butt, abdomen, back, etc).
- Focus on your breath: Simply focusing on your inhale and exhale will help keep your mind relaxed.