Chicago — When you don’t get enough sleep, dozing off at your work desk should be the least of your worries. Sleep disturbances increase the risk of cancer, depression, heart problems and life-threatening car crashes.
Decreased productivity is also a factor.
Sadly, a lot of us struggle with this, with a third of adults in the United States reporting that they usually get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Better sleep comes as a result of better habits. Here are five tips for a good night’s rest outlined by the CDC that I try to use:
Going to bed at the same time each night can help you establish a rhythm that will send you down a path to better sleep. So will getting up at the same time each morning. I find it helpful to be consistent with your night and morning routines as well. On the night before work, it could be helpful to prepare the things you’ll need for the next day. That could mean putting your laptop in your bag, preparing your lunch or if you work remotely, cleaning up your work space. In the morning, account for the time you’d like to spend in the shower, eating breakfast or preparing for your day with coffee.
‘Sleepify’ your room
So you're in bed getting ready to turn in, but it’s too cold or too hot. Or maybe it’s not dark or quiet enough. Fix that. The more comfortable you are, the higher your chance of relaxing and falling asleep quicker.
Stay off electronics!
For me, long, sleepless nights are often the product of listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos or going down a research rabbit hole before bed. Next thing I know, it’s past midnight. Then when I realize I’ve stayed up too late, I close my eyes just to find that sleep is still out of reach. For this exact reason and others, the CDC recommends removing electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, from the bedroom. For me removing them is a bit much. But try to develop the discipline to turn away from them when your bedtime comes around.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
Let’s be honest. It might be easier to avoid caffeine on a work night than a glass of wine. But even so, the point is to be mindful of what your putting in your body and how it might disrupt sleep. That’s why I prefer to reserve my coffee for the morning and afternoon and for my wine for the weekend.
Get some exercise
Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night, according to the CDC. I can attest. An intense 1 mile run, a game of basketball or weight lifting frequently leaves my body so sore and tired that I’m excited to get to bed. Try working out before or after work and see how beneficial it can be for your sleep schedule.