A lack of sleep can result in a wide variety of physical and mental health conditions. Interestingly, women are ate higher risk of developing health conditions as a result of too little sleep than men. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes as well as mood disorders are just some of the most common side effects. Women who don’t sleep enough are also more likely to gain weight and become obese further increasing the risk of developing type II diabetes.
To top this off, women struggle to create a balance between work and home life and find themselves juggling too many balls. This juggling act often leaves too little time for adequate sleep or difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep when there is time to rest.
How to Sleep Better at Night Naturally
1. Make Time
Making time to rest and sleep is critical. The latest research shows that the average adult requires around 7 hours of sleep a night to function optimally, preferably continuously. However, this differs from person to person and gets shorter as we age.
It is recommended to put aside 8 hours for sleep a night to provide the time the brain and body needs to calm down, relax and enter sleep mode until you know exactly how much sleep you actually need. There is such a thing as too much sleep and this can be just as bad for you. If everything that needs doing isn’t done before bedtime arrives, leave it.
2. Keep A Sleep Diary
This may seem like an unnecessary additional chore but will help to understand your unique sleep routine much better. Write down what time you get into bed and how long you think it took you to fall asleep. Every time you wake up during the night, write this down and the reason for waking. Write down the time you wake up every morning without an alarm. After about two weeks, you should have a good sense of how much natural sleep you need and what is waking you during the night. Doing so will help you find out what are your obstacles and hence help you to sleep better very quickly.
You can use this information to put aside the ideal amount of time for sleep as well as take steps to eliminate the reasons why you are waking.
3. Establish A Bedtime Routine
That hour extra that you have put aside for sleep time is for your bedtime routine. So an hour before bedtime, turn of the TV and other devices, dim the lights and do a calming or relaxing activity like meditation, playing tranquil music or reading for 15 minutes to half an hour. Dim lighting activates the sleep response to darkness which is part of your circadian rhythm. You sleep diary should let you know how long it takes you to fall asleep so make sure that you are snuggled up under the covers to allow for enough time for sleep to come naturally.
4. Early Mornings And Late Nights
As a career women, early mornings and late nights are sometimes simply unavoidable. However, it is best to avoid these as much as possible. Don’t work yourself to a state of exhaustion where you pass out when your head hits the pillow. And don’t think that it’s a good idea to wake-up an hour early to catch up on work or other tasks.
The whole point to getting better sleep is to establish a routine that lets your body know when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake up. Once this routine is established, you will start to feel sleepy at bedtime when you are out late and find it more difficult to wake earlier in the morning. Once you have established a routine, a late night here and there isn’t going to kill you. But for the time being, stick to your schedule, even on weekends.
5. Food, Beverages And Lifestyle
Don’t drink anything but water before bedtime. Coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages should not be consumed after 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Caffeine can keep giving you a buzz up to 8 hours after being consumed. Sugary beverages are going to give you a burst of energy making it more difficult to fall asleep. Alcohol may initially make you feel sleepy but it will wear off quickly letting you wake-up during the night. If your sleep diary shows that you are waking up to urinate, it may best to forego that glass of water before bed as well.
Smoking before bedtime is also not recommended. Nicotine stimulates the nervous system which will make it more difficult to fall asleep before it acts as a nervous system depressant and gives the calm that you crave and think is going to help you sleep. Eat at least 2 hours before bed time and avoid foods that have stimulating properties like candy.
Apart from those 5 tips, the most important thing you can do to improve your sleep is to schedule for it.
Every minute of every day counts for a career women and every detail of your life should therefore be scheduled. A schedule will help reduce stress which is one of the main causes of sleeplessness as well as allowing you to plan in order to create that perfect balance between home, work, social life, anything else you have going on and of course, most importantly, sleep.