Sleep is a big, big deal. It’s crucial for brain function, and chronic lack of sleep has been linked to serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Our go-getter culture, in which all-nighters and sleep deprivation have become a badge of honor, is only pushing us deeper into the unhealthy pattern of not getting enough shut-eye. If you’re finding that your sleep could use some improvement, try these three healthy practices before bed to help you get a more restful 8 hours.
1. Turn off your phone two hours before bed
That addictive blue light is interrupting your brain patterns and making it harder for you to get the kind of sleep that restores and refreshes you.
At a loss to do without your crutch? Try this self-care strategy.
2. Lay off the evening booze
A glass of wine may feel like just the thing to ease you into slumber, but science shows that while it may help you fall asleep easier, your sleep is lower quality and more disturbed after drinking. Is that a reason to never drink? Of course not. But if you’re feeling burned out and in need of some restorative sleep, try foregoing your glass of wine with dinner and reap the benefits of deeper, sounder sleep.
Try these mocktail recipes to make your happy hour, happier.
3. Read a book
Studies show that reading—yes, a PAPER BOOK—is more relaxing than TV. So even if zoning out in front of one, two, or 6 episodes of Game of Thrones feels like just the thing after a long day, try picking up a book instead. The key is to read for pleasure, not for work.
4. Keep your bedroom sacred
Many of us are guilty of using our bedroom for non-sleep activities, like eating, working, watching TV, etc. Try to keep your bedroom as a place for relaxation and rest (okay, and some, ahem, other fun activities too… 😉 ), and don’t let it become a mixed-use space. If you live in an overpriced studio in San Francisco or New York with 6 roommates and a dog, well, you get a pass on this one.
5. Set an alarm
Not your morning alarm. A BEDTIME alarm. Set it for ten minutes before you want to be in bed, and treat it like you would a work deadline.
And there you have it. Five simple steps to better sleep. These might be tough to implement at first, mainly because the idea underpinning all of them is that you should give your tech toys a break before bed. It’s hard. SO HARD. But just like anything—chasing a new goal, training for a race, or learning new things—the hard work pays off, and the sense of accomplishment is the cherry on top of your well-rested victory dance.