It’s no secret that most of us don’t get enough sleep. Even if we have good intentions by climbing into bed at 10pm and getting up at 6am, those eight hours of continuous, deep slumber may not always happen. So while the rest of the world is debating what their New Year’s Resolutions will be, we’d like to offer a suggestion: Get more sleep. Your mood will improve, your energy will skyrocket, and more than likely, everyone around you will be thankful. Here are seven secrets to help you get more shut-eye in 2013:
1. Up the Vitamin D. Melatonin is a hormone we all have that is critical to getting a good night’s sleep. Theoretically, melatonin should be released as you wind down for bed, but without sufficient levels of Vitamin D, it’s virtually impossible to produce adequate amounts. You can increase Vitamin D by exposing yourself to more sunlight, eating foods high in it and/or discussing a supplement with your doctor.
2. Watch your diet. What you eat is as important as what time you go to bed. Diets high in refined sugar (white breads and pastas, cakes, cookies, etc.) can not only cause indigestion and keep you awake, but they can also trigger insulin surges that will interfere with your body’s hormones that affect sleep. Instead, think of your diet as an aid to a good night’s rest. Ditch the refined sugar and eat low-fat and high-fiber foods throughout the day.
3. Turn the heat down. Did you know that the optimum sleeping temperature is 65 degrees? Turn the heat down, put on some warm pajamas and some light blankets, and you will likely sleep better.
4. Unplug. Here’s a tip for you: No Facebook posts are so important that they can’t wait until the morning. So turn off your computer, your phone and your TV after 9pm. Then spend an hour reading or unwinding before going to bed. Your brain needs time to settle down, and following your friend’s political rants on Facebook is not going to cut it.
5. Meditate. We’re not necessarily talking about a deep meditation with chanting (but if that works for you, all the better). Meditation can be as simply as mindful abdominal breathing. Here’s how: When you get into bed, put your hands on your belly. Pay attention as your hands rise and lower with each breath. Focusing on this small movement gets your mind off other distractions from your busy day and allows your brain to quiet down and relax.
6. Do yoga. Certain yoga poses–specifically, inversions–have been associated with curbing insomnia and allowing you to get a better night’s sleep. Here are some specific moves to try.
7. Stop puttering. Turning off the TV and other electronics early doesn’t mean it’s time to start cleaning the house. The hour before bed is strictly your unwind time. That pile of dirty laundry and those dust bunnies in the corner can wait until tomorrow.