Get your zz’s: Tips for a more restful night

January 22, 2014 | written by Susan Thanavaro | Get Mindful

If you find yourself repeatedly reaching for the snooze button before beginning your morning routine, you’re not alone. A CDC study conducted last year found that more than 40 million workers get fewer than six hours of sleep per night–that’s roughly 30 percent of working Americans.

Not getting enough shut eye can contribute to a host of health problems among them: heart disease, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and stroke. Sleep deprivation can also lead to accidents and injuries on the job and negatively impact critical thinking and learning. We know you likely don’t need motivation for getting enough sleep, but rather, a few tips to help you do it. Here are a few of our favorite suggestions for help recharging and rebooting.

Stick to a schedule
It’s important to go to bed and get up at the same time every day—yes, even on weekends and holidays. A schedule helps set your body’s sleep and wake cycle. Eventually, powering down and waking up can happen naturally without the dreaded alarm. Stay consistent for 30 days and see how your body responds. Of course, as the season’s change and days become longer, you may need to adjust your schedule to better sync with your environment.

Eat the right foods
Try the Goldilocks approach. You don’t want to go to bed hungry, nor do you want to be stuffed. If you’ve eaten a big meal, allow at least an hour before hitting the hay. Digesting while you’re sleeping can impact the quality of your sleep and cause you to wake you up in the middle of the night. Before bedtime also be mindful of the foods you’re consuming. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol should all be avoided.

Turn screens off
Researchers are discovering that exposure to backlit devices such as smartphones and tablets can suppress melatonin making it difficult to fall asleep.  Studies show teenagers in particular are affected. Consider a break from the screen before going to sleep. Make it a rule to never bring your smartphone or tablet to bed. If that feels too extreme start by dimming the screens on devices before bedtime.