UHA Worksite Wellness

Better Sleep Begins in the A.M.: Daytime Strategies for Improving Sleep

Written by Valerie Au on November 19, 2014. Posted in Well-Being, Post

Getting a full night of sound sleep is important for so many reasons. As we all know, feeling well-rested is vital for performing at our best during the day. In fact, a recent study showed that getting the right amount of sleep is also a big factor in reducing work-absenteeism due to illness, confirming the link between good sleep and good health. Clearly it’s extremely important for us to get the right amount of rest each night.

But did you know that your choices during the day can play a big part in determining the quality of your sleep? Decisions made as early as lunchtime, in fact, can affect how soundly you sleep at night. So if you’re not getting the rest you want, the answer may be earlier than you think… 

1. Schedule Your Sleep

Believe it or not, a big part of improving sleep begins the moment you wake up. Since your body has its own internal (circadian) rhythm, establishing a regular, consistent schedule for sleeping and waking is a huge part of helping your body learn when to shut down and when to start up again. As much as possible, be consistent; go to sleep at the same time each night – even on weekends, when it’s tempting to stay up later – and get out of bed at the same time every morning. Soon enough, by mimicking natural rhythms, you’ll be able to retrain your body’s rhythm so it’s back in sync.

2. Exercise Daily

Another big part of easing your body into sleep is giving it a good workout during the day! Studies have shown that people who identify as “exercisers” report sleeping better than people with more sedentary lifestyles. Yet another great reason to get active! Even better news is that your workout needn’t be strenuous to be beneficial, and it needn’t be continuous, either. You can exercise lightly or moderately for 10min here, 5min there… as long as you keep your body active for at least 30min a day, you’ll have an easier time falling asleep.

3. Avoid or Limit Napping During the Day

Since a good sleep schedule is key to falling asleep at night, do your best to avoid confusing your internal-clock by napping during the day. If you must nap, do so only in the early afternoon (before 3pm is best), and limit yourself to 10-30min at a time. Not only is this the most effective length for getting refreshed and recharged without risking sinking in too deep, but you’ll also be less likely to throw off your sleep schedule with a shorter nap.

4. Limit Stimulants After Lunchtime

If you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine, reducing your consumption in the early afternoon may already be part of your routine – but consider other stimulants as well. Smoking and drinking before bed increase the odds that you’ll wake up during the night, as both nicotine and alcohol are linked to restlessness. While some of us may swear by the somnambulic effects of a nightcap, alcohol also increases the likelihood of a fitful sleep. That means that 6-7hrs will feel like a whole lot less in the morning. Since the effects of some stimulants can last 4-12 hours, you’re more likely to get a full night’s rest if you avoid (or at least limit) stimulants after lunch.

Paired with effective bedtime-strategies, these daytime tips can help you get a head-start on a full night’s sleep. After all, a good sleep is key to a good morning (and vice versa!).

Valerie Au

Worksite Wellness Program Manager; Vice Chair, Hawaii Health at Work Alliance (HH@WA) Board of Directors

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