Sleep is one of the most important building blocks of a quality human life. Sleep not only affects body functions and mental health but it plays a role in keeping the immune and nervous system working properly, according to studies by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes. All these benefits are important to keeping entrepreneurs healthy during stressful times.
For those struggling to catch z’s, here are four expert tips from the National Sleep Foundation for getting better sleep now.
1. Get into a routine and keep it. You should go to bed at a set time each night and get up at the same time each morning, according to the National Sleep Foundation. They caution that disrupting this schedule may lead to insomnia or other troubles falling asleep at night. This is because when your body is used to a routine of sleep, it tends to align itself with that schedule and fall into sleep more naturally. Also, sleeping in on weekends makes it harder to wake up early on Monday morning, as your sleep cycle is reset for later awakenings. Find a schedule and stick to it as diligently as possible to ensure improved sleep.
2. Don’t eat or drink at night. Once you know your sleep routine, set an eating and drinking schedule to match. You should give yourself ample time before bed to have your food and alcohol digested.
Some people claim to fall asleep better with alcohol’s aid. While it may help you fall asleep faster, the sleep quality is much worse. Alcohol robs people of deep sleep and keeps them in the lighter stage, depriving them of the healing restorative properties of the REM cycle, according to The National Sleep Foundation. They also suggest you avoid drinks that contain caffeine, like coffee, soda and caffeinated teas, which acts as stimulant and can keep you awake late.
3. Eating light snacks may help. While you should avoid large meals and alcohol within two to three hours of sleep, many find an empty belly disturbing to their sleep. It’s okay to snack, just make sure you choose the right snacks to help aid digestion and improve sleep.
Think of tryptophan rich foods (there are more options than just turkey) that could help you naturally fall asleep better.
“Things like bananas, nuts, seeds, honey and eggs typically have more tryptophan in them,” Sleep expert Shelby Freedman told YouBeauty publication.
Avoid sugar and complex carbs. Instead try other options like a whole-wheat cracker with peanut or almond butter, bananas and nuts or even low-fat cheese options to help you fall asleep without a rumbling tummy or an overly full belly.
4. Give yourself an electronics buffer. All the computer, TV, iPhone and tablet screens that entrepreneur’s use daily may be the culprits of sleeping trouble. Electronics that emit light can stimulate your body in a way that makes it difficult to unwind for sleep. Cut your electronics use within thirty to sixty minutes of bed to wind down properly for sleep.
"Falling asleep isn't like flicking a switch. We take time to wind down at night. If we've got bright light conditions, we're not giving ourselves a chance to get off to sleep and stay asleep, "Allison Harvey, a sleep specialist and psychology professor at UC Berkeley told US News.
While individual sensitivity to light varies by person, you may want to consider an electronics curfew for yourself to unwind and prepare your body for sleep by reducing your exposure to the light of your electronics.