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People have always known that a good night’s sleep can do wonders for their physical and mental well-being. But up until recently there wasn’t too much scientific data out there to actually back these claims.

Luckily things are different today. New sleep monitoring technologies have allowed scientists to actually measure the benefits of a good night’s sleep–and what they found is pretty cool!

According to a number of studies published in the last 10 years, a good night’s sleep can increase academicand athletic performance2and improve levels of focus, productivity3 and emotional stability, among many other things!

Because sleep is so important, we decided to put together a list of six things you can try today to get some quality Zs! We’ll get into that list in a second, but first let’s take a look at the basics…

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What does a good night’s sleep even look like?

According to experts at the National Sleep Foundation, a good night’s sleep…

  • Happens within 20 minutes of laying down
  • Lasts between 7 to 9 hours
  • Leaves you well rested and ready for the next day.

“So, what can I do to get there?” you ask. Here are 6 Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep.

1. Try to get up (and go to sleep) at the same time every day

Routines help set your body’s internal clock and improve the quality of your sleep.

TIP: It’s OK to sleep in for an extra hour on the weekends, but don’t over do it! If you go to bed later, you should set an alarm to wake up at the same time you do during the week, and take a nap later in the day to make up for the missed hours. The more your weekend/weekday sleep differ, the harder it is to consistently get a good night’s sleep.

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2. Consider the cat-nap

Napping is a good way to make up for lost sleep, but it’s important to not overdo it.

TIP: If you are super tired after getting back from school or work, make sure you limit naps to 45 minutes. According to sleep experts, a quick nap can recharge your energy without dramatically altering your sleep patterns.

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3. Avoid looking at bright screens before you go to sleep

According to experts, blue backlight from your phone, tablet, computer, or TV stimulates your brain and prevents the production of melatonin, a hormone associated with sleep. This makes it more difficult to fall asleep, and can disrupt healthy sleeping patterns.

TIP: If you’re going to spend some time on your phone before going to bed, make sure you turn the brightness down and download an app that filters out the blue light.

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4. Make sure the room is dark

Scientific studies show that darkness is key to a good night’s sleep4. A dark room let’s your body know that it’s time to start producing melatonin, which in turn ensures that you fall asleep quicker.

TIP: Try a sleep mask, or use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows.

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5. Avoid big meals before bed

In recent years, research has shown that eating certain foods right before going to bed can interfere with your sleep cycles5Very heavy meals, as well as acidic or spicy dishes, can lead to heartburn which will keep you up at night. In addition to this, sugars, caffeine and other stimulants can also keep you awake at night.

TIP: Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid things like candies, ice creams or big pasta dishes within two hours of bed.

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6. Stay out of your head.

As hard as it may be, try not to stress if you can’t fall asleep. Research shows that stress encourages your body to stay awake and prevents you from falling asleep6.

TIP: Deep breathing or mindfulness exercises and visualizing peaceful and restful place can help you relax. Try Breathr, an app that provides easy ways to practice mindfulness.

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Get started today!

While it may take a few days or even weeks (everyone is different when it comes to this) to get settled in a healthy sleep routine, now is as good a time as any to start working on it. Try starting with a sleep diary to track your sleep habits and see what you can do to get a better night’s rest.

Everyone has trouble sleeping from time to time, if your sleep problems start to get in the way of your daily life, you may want to talk to your doctor or a trusted adult. Visit our Get Support section for more information.

References

  1. Marques, D.R., Meia-Via, A.M.S., Fernandas, d.S., & Gomes, A.A. (2017). Associations between sleep quality and domains of quality of life in a non-clinical sample: Results from higher education students. Sleep Health, 3(5), 348-356https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2017.07.004 
  2. Mah, C.D., Mah, K.E, Kezirian, E.J., & William, C.D. (2011). The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep, 34(7), 943-940. DOI:  10.5665/SLEEP.1132
  3. Rosekind, M.R., Gregory, K.B., Mallis, M.M., Brandt, S.L., Seal, B., & Lerner, D. (2010). The cost of poor sleep: Workplace productivity loss and associated costs. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52(1), 91-98. DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181c78c30
  4. Dijk D-J, Archer SN (2009) Light, Sleep, and Circadian Rhythms: Together Again. PLoS Biol 7(6): e1000145. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000145
  5. Kinsey, A., & Ormsbee, M. (2015). The health impact of nighttime eating: Old and new perspectives. Nutrients, 7(4), 2648-2662. DOI: 10.3390/nu7042648
  6. Zawadzki, M., Graham, J., & Gerin, W. (2013). Rumination and anxiety mediate the effect of loneliness on depressed mood and sleep quality in college students. Health Psychology, 32, 212-222. DOI: 10.1037/a0029007

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