There are many things that can cause a lack of sleep. A busy lifestyle is one big cause that can lead to many of us not getting enough shuteye. Perhaps work or kids are keeping you up at night? Or perhaps your busy social life is leaving little room for sleep? In either case, you need to find a way of improving your sleep hygiene. Regularly getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night can increase the risk of developing various health problems ranging from heart disease to depression. On top of this, your performance in everything you do will be reduced. Below are just a few tips on how you can get more sleep if you live a busy life.
Reassess your bedtime
Going to bed at 2AM is fine if you’re able to sleep in until at least 9AM. However, for most of us, this isn’t an option. Commitments like work, school, kids or pets mean that we have to be up earlier, which means going to bed earlier to get in those 7 hours of sleep.
Going to bed earlier isn’t easy as it means sacrificing downtime – but it’s that or your health. Get into a habit of setting alarms in order to encourage you to go to bed if you often lose track of time and set yourself limits when it comes to binging episodes or playing rounds of video games.
Schedule days of rest
If getting 7 hours of sleep isn’t an option, you should try to schedule a day of rest – either the next day or whenever you can. This is a day for catching up on sleep.
For example, if you have to stay up until midnight and are up at 4am the next day, try to schedule an early night the next day for catching up on sleep. If you’re having a chaotic week and have no choice but to go several nights with little sleep, make sure to plan a day of rest at the weekend.
Make time for naps
If you can’t get enough sleep at night, naps during the day are the next best option for catching up with sleep.
New moms are typically advised to nap when their babies are napping – while it’s tempting to make the most of those moments of freedom, you need to prioritize rest where you can.
As for chaotic work schedules, consider whether you have time for a lunch break power nap – 20 minutes is the optimum amount of time for feeling rejuvenated.
Get help with responsibilities
With kids and pets, you should try to share the responsibility with others where you can.
This could include sharing out night feeds with a partner when looking after a newborn or taking it in turns to let a puppy out to go to the toilet. If you are raising a child alone, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family members to come round and babysit for an hour while you nap if you are in desperate need of sleep.
As for work, you cannot expect to work around the clock. Know when to delegate work to fellow colleagues or hire help if you are self-employed (even if it’s outsourcing someone to answer the phone during certain hours).
Take steps to destress
A busy lifestyle can lead to stress, and stress can delay the production of sleep hormones by keeping us alert. It’s important to take steps to destress before you go to bed. There are a few different de-stressing activities that could be worth working into your evening routine. These include:
- Taking a long hot bath
- Listening to music
- Reading a book
- Jotting down concerns or a to-do list in a notebook
Work out in the morning
Exercise can be a means of de-stressing but it is not something you should do in the evening. Too much physical activity late in the day can pump us full of adrenaline and serotonin which can make it hard to get sleep straight afterwards.
A workout in the morning does mean getting up earlier, but it could be a solution to insomnia if you feel like you’re always buzzing from the day before. You should similarly try to limit other forms of physical activity in the evening such as housework or manual labor.
Know when to see a doctor for insomnia
Seeing a doctor may be necessary if sleep problems persist. Clinics like Inspire Health may be able to prescribe sleep medicine or look into sleep-related health problems. In some cases, stress from your busy lifestyle may not even be the reason why you cannot sleep at night – it’s important to rule other options out.
Lack of sleep from a busy lifestyle can often come down to poor prioritizing. It’s important that you know when to put your sleep first. Avoid burning the candle at both ends when working if you can help it. There may be times when you have to get up early and stay up late to complete work (especially if you’re self-employed) but this shouldn’t be a regular thing. Make sure that kids are looked after but also be prepared to share the load with other people if you are truly exhausted.
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