More often than not do you find yourself staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning as your mind reels from the day, or even counting sheep in a desperate attempt to get to sleep at night? While it is recommended adults get seven to eight hours of sleep nightly, the average working adult gets about six. A lack of rest is often compounded by excess coffee and sugary foods we consume to help keep us awake. In turn, too much caffeine and sugar lead to difficulty falling asleep at night, creating a cycle that becomes incredibly hard to break.
Sure, you know you should be sleeping more hours. That's an easy one. But have you ever stopped to consider that maybe the six hours of sleep you are getting aren't necessarily restful? In a society that is over-stimulated and under-nourished in the sleep department, the concept of a bedtime ritual has been gaining popularity. Everyone from Arianna Huffington to Cameron Diaz have been recommending more quality sleep, and the best way to get that is to create your own ritual and set yourself up for a successful sleep. Try these simple steps and take the parts that work for you to create your own nightly ritual.
Create an Oasis -- Make your bedroom a refuge, not an extension of all the things that add stress to your day. Designate the space as your own personal quiet zone. Remove the TV if you have one and leave your laptop plugged in to charge in the living room. Add a calming scent or high thread count sheets that you cannot wait to climb into. Try to recreate that feeling of stepping into a spa or a vacation resort, any place you've felt a physical relaxation response.
Make an Appointment to Sleep -- Sleep is serious business so treat it like a meeting that you cannot afford to miss. Dr. Mark Rosekind tells us, "Staying up later on a consistent basis, you readjust your internal clock, and delayed sleep phase syndrome sets in." This sleep disruption may lead to insomnia, and it wreaks havoc on your circadian rhythm. If you need more hours of sleep but can't seem to find the time, start making your sleep appointments 15 minutes earlier each week until you have scheduled the time you adequately need to feel rested.
Do an Electronic Detox -- Texting and emailing before bed can incite anxiety, especially if you stay up waiting for a response. If the idea of leaving your phone in another room while you sleep induces panic, take advantage of the airplane or do not disturb modes. Routinely shut off your phone at least 45 minutes before you close your eyes so you're not tempted to keep checking it. This also has the added benefit of training the outside world to know that you're not always available. This simple act will help both your mind and body relax.
Set the Mood -- Create a simple routine that when performed over and over will let your body know that it is time to power down. Dim the lights, cut down on mental stimulation, and move slowly. Use the time to take a hot shower or relax in the bath. Brush and floss your teeth and climb into bed feeling clean and calm.
Sleep Naked -- Yep, you read that right! Your skin has to breathe to stay healthy. Sleeping in the buff can clear up skin irritations and regulate your body temperature, both of which contribute to disruptive sleep if you are constantly being awoken by putting on and throwing off the covers all night. Keep the room temperature at a cool 65°F, and you'll even burn some calories overnight as your body works a bit harder to stay warm. - Linden Schaffer
This article was written for and originally published on The Huffington Post.