Daytime Habits for a Dreamy Nighttime
Is anything more annoying for your sleep schedule than the shift to Daylight Saving Time? Even the happy-sounding reminder “spring forward!” does little to ease the dread and undereye circles. As if that isn’t enough, John Spira, a professor of mental health at Johns Hopkins, notes, “The scientific evidence points to acute increases in adverse health consequences from changing the clocks, including in heart attack, and stroke.”
If you are still struggling with the time change – or just having a hard time sleeping – it’s worth examining your daytime habits. The National Sleep Foundation’s recent poll found that Americans have behaviors that don’t support the best sleep. But small daily adjustments can make a big difference to your sleep and overall health. Here are five actions to take during the daylight to ensure a good night’s rest.
- Bask in the sun. The natural process behind your waking and sleeping cycles is regulated by the right kind of light exposure. Bright, natural light gets you moving while dim, warm light calms you down. People who spend 3-5 hours outdoors have the highest sleep health.
- Move it, move it. We know that exercise has wide health benefits, and that definitely includes sleep! Physical activity will energize you during the day while at the same time tiring your body out, making it ready for rest. Just make sure you get enough movement during the day; most of us fall short of the CDC’s recommended 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise per week.
- Set the table. Missing meals or having unpredictable mealtimes can actually impact the quality of your sleep. Having consistent times when you are eating reinforces the natural cycles; aim to consume the last meal of the day two to three hours before bedtime, and limit alcohol and caffeine intake before hitting the hay.
- Schedule sleep. Regular bedtimes are not just for kids. Committing to a set routine of tucking in and tuning out will also support your body’s natural rhythms. Bonus: You’ll find it’s easier to fall asleep and wake up!
- Find your calm. It’s no surprise that stress is a nemesis to good sleep. Dr. Annise Wilson from Baylor College of Medicine explains, “High levels of stress impair sleep by prolonging how long it takes to fall asleep and fragmenting sleep. Sleep loss triggers our body’s stress response system, leading to an elevation in stress hormones, namely cortisol, which further disrupts sleep.” Include activities to help wind down like yoga or taking baths and stay off computer screens and social media before bedtime.
Setting yourself up during the day for a good night’s rest is fundamental to physical and mental health. You can use these daytime habits anytime to create a dreamier nighttime of sleep, no matter what the clock says.