Not catching enough Zs can make you grumpy—but did you know it can also make you sick? Research has shown a relationship between inadequate sleep and obesity; and obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and even heart disease. If you can’t remember the last time you got a truly restful, uninterrupted night’s sleep, try these suggestions:
Clear your mind. If your mind starts racing the minute you turn out the light, and you’re too busy worrying about an upcoming presentation or analyzing an awkward conversation to fall asleep, you need to engage in some mind games. According to a recent article on Prevention.com, they key to nipping anxious thoughts in the bud is “stimulus control”—basically a change of scenery to snap your brain out of its funk. Without turning on the lights, get out of bed and go into another room. Once you feel your mind clearing, it’s safe to go back to bed.
Turn off the lights (all of them). When your eyes detect light, it hinders your brain from going into sleep mode. Even the glow of an alarm clock or headlights out the window can be enough to keep you awake. Luckily, there are numerous ways to block out light sources, from sleep masks to blackout shades to simply snapping off nightlights and turning your clock to face the wall.
Set the alarm 7 days a week. Sleeping in on weekends may feel like a well-deserved indulgence, but staying up late and snoozing too long does a number on your body’s natural rhythms. Waking up within an hour of your normal time on weekend mornings means you’ll be less likely to stay up ‘til the wee hours on Sunday night and less reluctant to roll out of bed come Monday morning.
Shush your snoring spouse. Much as you might want to at 3 a.m., you can’t put a muzzle on your spouse. But you can help him stop snoring with a pillow created specifically for that purpose (Prevention recommends the neurologist-designed Sona pillow). Nasal strips such as Breathe Right can also be very effective. And, while they won’t stop your spouse from sawing wood, a comfortable pair of earplugs will at least block out the sound.
No dogs (or cats) allowed. You don’t share your bed with your human best friend, so why allow your furry BFF to curl up on your pillow? Pets sprawled out on your comforter or snuggling into the crook of your arm may make you feel cozy, but they’re probably also keeping you awake. If you must have Puppy in the room, set up a bed (or crate) of his own next to yours. To keep Kitty out, close the door and line the bottom with double-sided tape, which, according to Prevention, is too sticky for cats to tolerate.