People who can do with little sleep — five hours or less — comprise of less than 10 percent of the population. That’s great for them, but what about the rest of us?
It’s important to get the right amount of sleep for your body. When you’re well-rested, you will both work better and feel better. But it’s difficult, in a world that’s constantly on, to take the time you need to re-charge. As much as you’d like to be the person who can work late into the night, wake up for the early spin class and still be on and alert throughout the day, it’s probably not possible. You’re not superwoman, and that’s okay. But in order to be genuinely well-rested, you have to put in the time and effort to get quality sleep, when you need it.
Here are some things that might help if you want to look and feel like a morning person.
If you’re getting to sleep, but then waking up four or five hours into the night and have trouble falling back asleep, it could be due to physical or emotional stress. Try some stress-reduction tactics. This could be many things, from trying to fit in more exercise in your day to setting up a relaxing pre-bedtime routine that includes a warm bath or soft music. Find out what works for you.
Try to Maintain a Regular Schedule
It’s hard, but the best way to establish a good sleeping schedule is by sticking to it. Once you find out how much sleep keeps you well rested, make it a priority to get to bed on time: the body loves routine. And even on the weekends, sleep only as late as you need to. Sleeping until noon brunch on Sunday can backfire when you can’t fall asleep that night.
Adjust Your Bedtime Gradually
If you’re trying to get a better schedule, you might be tempted to make a dramatic change. But if that means you’re attempting to go to bed three hours earlier than you usually hit the sheets, you might find it difficult to get into the REM cycle. Try to set your bedtime earlier by 20 minutes at first. Once your body gets used to that, you can set it earlier by another 20.
Stop Hitting the Snooze
A lot of us do it: We set our alarm for earlier than we really need to wake up, with the intention of hitting the snooze for a while. Stop. When you hit your alarm and doze back off, your brain re-starts the sleep cycle, so when the alarm goes off again, you’re more likely to be at a deeper part of the REM cycle, leaving you feeling groggy. Figure out how much time you need in the morning, and set your alarm accordingly.
Naps are great. Along with feeling awesome, they can also reduce stress and increase productivity. But if you’re looking to get down with a midday snooze, try to keep it at about 30 minutes. Anything past that, and you’ll fall into a deep sleep that can leave you feeling groggy after you wake up. And if it’s past 4 p.m., you might want to skip the nap all together — or you might have trouble falling to sleep that night.
Abandon Your Phone
Having your phone next to your bed has the potential to ruin your sleep cycle with middle of the night sounds and light. Try to charge your phone outside of your room and use an old-school alarm clock. But if that’s not possible (we get it), put your phone on airplane mode or put it facedown on your bedside table.
Banish Your Pet
You might love your cat or dog, but letting your pets sleep in your bed might be ruining your sleep: A Mayo Clinic study found that 53 percent of pet-owning patients reported interruptions in their sleep every night. Try to keep your pets in their own space if you’re trying to increase the quality of your shut-eye.
The first step of becoming well-rested is wanting it. Recognize sleep as an important part of your health — rather than something you have to do. Make the time for it, find out how you sleep best and then make it a priority to be a central part of your schedule. After all, who doesn't love sleeping?