We are a sleep deprived society. According to the National Sleep Foundation, we’ve managed to squeeze almost a month of additional work and commuting time into each year. Meanwhile, we’ve sacrificed 2 hours of sleep every night in order to keep up with the increased demands of our fast paced lives. On average, adults are now sleeping only 7 hours per night as opposed to the 8 hours sleep specialists recommend.
I’m all about learning from our cats, and they are no slouches when it comes to sleeping. The average cat sleeps between 12 and 16 hours a day. And since you don’t see cats stressing out over their to do lists, they must know something we don’t.
While I’m not suggesting that you should strive to sleep 12 to 16 hours a day, I’m betting that many of you don’t even get the recommended 8 hours most nights. Here are some tips that can help you sleep better:
Keep a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will make you feel more refreshed than sleeping the same number of hours at different times. The reason why so many of us feel worse on Mondays is because we change our sleep pattern on weekends.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Relax even before you go to bed. Listen to some soothing music, play with your cats, meditate – do whatever it takes to send signals to your brain that it’s time to wind down.
Reserve your bedroom for sleeping only. No working, no reading, no television in bed. Once you elmininate these distractions, you’ll have an easier time falling asleep. I’ve never had a TV in the bedroom, but I used to love reading in bed. When I started having trouble falling alseep, I stopped, and it’s made a big difference.
Keep your bedroom on the cool side. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room. The optimal recommended temperature is 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure your room is dark. Use room darkening shades or try an eye mask. Remove electronic devices with glowing screens from your bedroom. Recent studies have shown that devices such as phones, iPads, and music players inhibit the ability to fall alseep. Even using these devices within an hour of bedtime can affect your sleep, because the light emitted from these devices can suppress the sleep promoting hormone melatonin.
Change your nighttime eating habits. Don’t eat too close to bedtime. Avoid caffeinated beverages after lunch. Caffeine can cause sleep problems even 10 to 12 hours after drinking it. Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening. I’ve also found that having sugary snacks too close to bedtime interferes with the quality of my sleep.
Snuggle with your cats. What better way to fall asleep than listening to a cat’s purr? And while some people suggest that you should lock your cats out of the bedroom so you can get a good night’s sleep – well, that’s not going to happen at my house. I’ll gladly sacrifice some quality sleep if that’s the price to pay for having them sleep with me.
Do you have trouble sleeping? What helps you get a good night’s sleep?