Sleep is a luxury many of us can't afford. Work, training, a social life – all of these things take time, and when time is short, it's all too easy to skimp on sleep. Unfortunately, being sleep deprived can reduce productivity, make it harder to concentrate, and even affect your health.
There will always be times when you have to get by on less sleep, but that doesn’t mean you should do it all the time. Here are seven strategies for getting more sleep. You might end up with fewer hours awake per day, but those hours will be much more productive.
#1 Reintroduce bedtime
It's probably been years since you had a bedtime, but it's time to bring it back. By making sure you are in bed by a certain time, you are more likely to get all the hours of sleep you need. Decide what time you need to get up, and then make sure you hit the hay eight hours before that. Try to keep your bedtime constant so that your body gets used to going to sleep at the same time each night.
#2 Lights out!
There is no point going to be early if you are then going to stay awake watching TV or updating your Facebook status! All that light will mess with your circadian rhythm. Light tells your brain it's time to wake up while darkness tells you it's time to sleep. Dim the lights, and you’ll sleep like a baby.
#3 Relax before you hit the rack
There is no point trying to sleep if your brain is still running at 100 mph. 30 minutes or so before you intend to hit the rack, start winding down and relaxing. Have some warm milk, a warm bath or shower, read a book, or spend a few minutes stretching or meditating. Avoid activities that are agitating such as watching the news or playing video games.
#4 Buy a decent bed
How much did your car cost? And how much did you pay for your bed? I’ll bet your car was way more expensive. But, which one do you spend more time in? You don’t have to spend a fortune on your bed, but you should spend enough that you end up with a comfortable place to rest your weary head. Use the same mindset for your pillows and bedclothes. Money spent will soon be recouped as your waking hours will be more productive and profitable.
#5 Buy a white noise generator
Most people sleep best in a quiet bedroom. Unfortunately, this means that even small noises can be disruptive. Neighbor’s dog barking, creaking floorboards, passing traffic, late-night revelers outside on the street can all keep you awake. Drown out extraneous noise with a white noise generator. White noise generators produce constant but monotonous tones that are easy to ignore but make it hard to hear those other distracting sounds. My favorite? Rain on a tent awning. It makes me feel cozy, safe and reminds me of being in the field.
#6 No more naps
While a daytime nap might seem like the perfect way to catch up on missed sleep, sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal clock and make it harder to sleep at night. This makes you even sleepier in the day and more prone to napping. More napping means less nighttime sleep – it’s a vicious circle.
Toughen up and power through daytime sleepiness. That way you're more likely to sleep soundly at night. Get yourself to bed earlier, and you won't need naps anyway.
#7 Try a melatonin supplement
When it comes to sleep, a lot of people are out of practice. Despite being habitually tired, they have lost the ability to sleep soundly. This is common for new parents and those who need to be in a state of alertness through the night, such as those serving in the armed services.
Melatonin is a naturally-occurring sleep hormone that is available as a supplement too. Taking 1-5 grams 30-60 minutes before you go to bed primes your body for sleep and can help you sleep longer and more soundly. Melatonin is widely available in health stores and online.
Just because you can get by on less than eight hours sleep per night doesn't mean you should! Put these tips into practice, and you'll soon be sleeping like the proverbial baby.