Reed Vawter, MS, RDN, CSOWM, LD
Health Education Consultant
Employee Wellness Team
With daylight saving time coming up (skip ahead one hour on Sunday, March 13!), it’s the perfect opportunity to evaluate our sleep habits. We often worry about how to cope with the lost hour, but it’s more important to make sure our everyday sleep is on track. If we get good quality sleep on every other night, the daylight-saving switch won’t be as hard.
Here are some strategies to help you get your best night’s rest ever.
Be sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet according to your preferences. Experiment with blackout shades, thermostat settings, and even a fan or white noise machine to create the perfect environment. Also, assess your mattress – the average lifespan is 7-10 years. If yours is older, you may not be getting the comfort and support you need.
Create nighttime habits that help you ease into sleep as much as possible. Try reading a book or listening to soothing music. Journal to set aside your thoughts for the day. And shut off TV, computer, and phone screens several hours before bedtime. Find a routine you can be consistent with.
Daily exercise can promote quality sleep. But you’ll probably want to avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime. If you want movement in the evening, try gentle stretching or restorative yoga.
Anxiety and stress can impact sleep. Work on strategies that help you cope. Regular meditation can be very effective. If you need more help with stress management, schedule an appointment for counseling with CARS.
Limit large meals 2-3 hours before bedtime and avoid drinking caffeine after noon. If you regularly drink alcohol at night, try cutting back since it can cause disruptive sleep. If you need a pre-bedtime snack, try a warm drink, such as milk (non-dairy is okay) or herbal teas (especially chamomile or lavender), as these can help promote sleep.
There are so many things that can affect the quality of your sleep. If you are running into challenges, try some of these strategies. Experiment a bit and find the combination that works best for you.