Five Sleep Secrets to Improve Sleep Habits and Efficiency

Improve sleep efficiency

Everyone wants to be healthy and successful, but most people ignore the one thing that holds them back: a good night's sleep habit. Without it, our bodies can’t heal, our minds aren’t sharp, and even a routine day can be a struggle. However, by learning a few simple tricks, you can take back your nights, and be even more productive every day by improving sleep habits and sleep efficiency.

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Here are five of my sleep secrets:

Tip 1: Control light
At least 30 minutes before you turn in, turn off phones, computers and televisions – any electronics that give off light. There is some research that the blue tint can trigger your brain to feel alert, not restful. Try not to text on your phone or have a TV or computer on right before you fall asleep. In addition to distracting your mind right before it's supposed to shut off, you are flooding your eyes with "Wake up!" signals from the screens. Of course, this means that when you wake up and have to restart your body, you want to get to really bright light as soon as possible.

Tip 2: Keep it cool
A cool temperature is how your body naturally recognizes it's time for bed. This comes from a time when our ancestors were living outside, and the cooling of evening marked the end of the day. One way to cool off at night is to take a shower – but not a cold one! Too cold and you'll shock yourself awake. A warm shower two hours before bedtime allows your body to cool off afterwards. That helps restore the cooling sensation your body is looking for to recognize it's bedtime.

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Tip 3: Shut out the noise
Our modern environment is incredibly noisy, even late at night. If background noise is bothering you, try keeping soft earplugs nearby. Several brands are made just for sleeping, with a super-soft foam that doesn't put pressure on your ear when you lie on it. You can also add your own soothing background "white noise", such as a fan or sound machine.

Tip 4: Avoid all-nighters at all costs
Sleep loss is cumulative – when you lose sleep several days during the week, you can’t catch up by sleeping in one day on the weekend. Your body takes time to recover. Get to bed on time so you can get up on time, and with more of the day available, you may find you don't need the all-nighters.

Tip 5: Chemistry is not a substitute for sleep.
Avoid using pills to help you sleep, or coffee to help you stay awake. Those "quick fixes" can mask sleep problems, so you may not realize your body is sleep-deprived and rundown until you get sick. An artificial feeling of alertness does not mean your body has had time to repair damage from the day before.

With these good habits in place, your body can take care of the rest.

Dr. Aneesa Das, Sleep Specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

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