You know the feeling: Your eyelids become droopy like they have giant weights attached to them. The words on your computer begin to blur. The only problem is you’re sitting at your desk in the middle of the workday. You have a meeting coming up, but all you want is some much-needed shut-eye. Maybe you could rest your eyes for a few minutes and no one would notice...
If you’re guilty of dozing off at your desk in the middle of the day and constantly feel so tired it hurts, you’re definitely not getting enough sleep. Good news: We’ve got you covered. Here are 7 life hacks to improve your sleep quality.
1. Unplug all devices.
Stop the habit of scrolling endlessly through social media right before bed. Our phones, tablets, and laptops give off harmful blue light that causes eye strain and impedes melatonin production. Blue light tricks your brain into thinking it’s daylight. Instead, try unplugging all devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and read a book or listen to soothing music.
2. Ditch the 2 p.m. coffee break.
If it’s 2 p.m. and you’re dreading the fact that you have at least 3 more hours of work, your instinct might be to brew a fresh cup of coffee. However, caffeine can stay in your body for up to 10 hours. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening because it’s a stimulant that makes falling asleep more difficult. Try opting to drink your coffee or tea in the morning so you have time to process the caffeine.
3. Turn down the thermostat.
Let’s start sleeping in the way that nature intended us to sleep. Since our body’s core temperature drops at night along with the outdoor temperature, our body receives those biological cues that it’s bedtime. Sleeping in a warm room throws off our body’s natural balance. Make sure it’s not too frigid in there! Sleeping uncomfortably cold can cause you to wake up more frequently during the night.
4. Dim your lights.
Don’t underestimate the power of our circadian rhythm. Our cycle is so linked to the outside environment that any light coming into our bedroom disrupts our ability to sleep soundly. Our bodies rely on melatonin for a restful night’s sleep and serotonin from the pineal gland in our brain. This gland is sensitive to any type of light such as the glow from our television. Even turning on the light in the middle of the night for a bathroom run can throw off melatonin production! If you can’t fall asleep completely in the dark, wear a sleep mask over your eyes to block out artificial light.
5. Don’t eat a big meal right before bed.
You might think big meals put you into a “food coma,” where you could doze off into a deep sleep right at the dinner table. However, consuming large meals right before bed actually works against you. When you eat a large dinner close to bedtime, a massive amount of energy is needed to break down the food. Our body then directs blood flow to the digestive system instead of the brain, which prevents quality sleep. Not to mention the fact that it also can lead to heartburn and acid reflux. Try to eat dinner early so your body has time to digest before bed.
6. Only use your bed for sleeping.
It’s becoming increasingly common for bosses to allow their employees to work from home, which might tempt you to work curled up in your bed. When you use your bed for activities other than sleeping, you’re tricking your body into thinking your bed can be associated with anything. Save watching your favorite TV show for the living room to reserve your bed for sleep only.
7. Get your body on a regular sleeping schedule -- and stick to it.
Even if you stay up occasionally late to catch up on the season of your favorite show or go out late with your friends on the weekend, you’re throwing off your circadian rhythm and disrupting your sleep cycle. Your internal clock shows your body signs of drowsiness over the course of 24 hours. When you constantly throw off your internal clock, your body becomes “late-shifted.” In order to prevent yourself from becoming chronically sleep-deprived, train your body to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. It will make your body become tired at the same time every night.