Do you feel groggy and foggy most mornings? Do you find yourself hitting snooze a dozen times before you can actually roll out of bed? If you’re like most people, you’re probably not getting enough sleep at night. Your sleep is very important to your health and mental clarity, and if you’re tossing and turning at night or falling asleep to the bright glow of The Bachelor on television, you may be missing out on some much-needed z’s.
The good news is that you have much more control over your personal sleep cycle than you realize. When you make a point to catch up with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle (or circadian rhythm), you’ll feel more refreshed and energized throughout the day. Getting enough sleep in before or during travel can be a true challenge, so if you’re planning an upcoming trip, we recommend you continue reading. Let’s take a look at some tips to get a good night’s sleep below.
Keep A Solid Sleep Schedule
If your sleep schedule is out of whack, you’re not getting the quality sleep you deserve. That’s why it’s so important to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This helps set your body’s internal clock so it knows what to expect. While you may feel tempted to sleep in until noon on the weekends, this can actually harm your sleep schedule. Try your best to wake up at the same time on the weekends, so you don’t confuse your body.
Drink Water Like It’s Going Out Of Style
As humans, our body needs water to function. If you’ve ever experienced dehydration during a sports game, you already know that your body doesn’t work well when it doesn’t have enough water. It’s easy to feel fatigued and irritable when you’re dehydrated which can lead to trouble concentrating and focusing on tasks throughout the day. Make sure you’re drinking enough water during the day so you’re not falling asleep dehydrated.
Avoid Caffeinated Drinks Before Bed
While this one may seem like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised how many people drink coffee or alcohol before bed. If you love your cup of joe in the morning, you already know that there is a significant amount of caffeine in your coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can help keep you alert and awake throughout the day. When you sip that after-dinner cup of coffee, you’re actually doing more harm to your body than good. Try to avoid consuming caffeine four to six hours before your normal bedtime.
According to an article from the National Sleep Foundation, 20 percent of Americans use alcoholic beverages to help them fall asleep. But just because alcohol is a depressant doesn’t mean it will do wonders when it comes time to start counting sheep. Alcohol has been shown to contribute to poor quality sleep and studies have found that drinking booze before bed is actually linked with more slow-wave sleep patterns (also known as delta activity). While you may fall asleep quickly after a glass of red wine, the quality of sleep you’re getting is sub par and will affect your natural circadian rhythm.
Your Mattress Is Important
Did you know that your mattress plays a critical role in how well you sleep? If you’ve had the same mattress since college, we highly recommend investing in a new one. An old, outdated mattress will not provide your body with the adequate support it needs to rest comfortably. Since no two bodies are alike, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for finding the perfect mattress, it simply takes some research. Most reputable bedding stores will allow you to test out a mattress for up to three months before making a final decision, so keep this in mind as you start shopping.
Develop A Pre-Sleep Routine
While you may be tempted to turn on the tube to watch your favorite TV series before bed, if your sleep is important to you, you should keep it off. In order to get a restful night’s sleep, it’s important to take the time to wind down before closing your eyelids and drifting off to dreamland. Try to incorporate relaxing activities an hour or so before you go to bed. These activities can include things like taking a warm bath, reading a novel, or practicing yoga. It’s important that you do everything you can to avoid stressful activities, as that will cause your body to create the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol will increase your energy and alertness, making it even more difficult to fall asleep when you want to.
Keep An Eye On Your Eating Habits Before Bed
Got a sweet tooth? Need a midnight snack before hitting the sack? Don’t do it. The foods and beverages you drink before bed will have a tremendous effect on your quality of sleep. To be safe, we recommend stopping eating at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. If you really need something to munch on before hitting the hay, avoid consuming spicy or fatty foods. These will be more difficult for your stomach to digest, which will make it hard for your body to relax.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, cutting back on your sugar intake can also do wonders for your sleep. If you’re prone to eating sweets throughout the day, you should know that the sugar in your diet directly affects your blood sugar levels. Why does this matter? Your blood sugar levels influence your energy levels. While sugar may seem like an ideal pick-me-up, the energy surge won’t last long. This can lead to crashing throughout the day, which nobody wants.
According to Ana Krieger, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, “Eating healthy and allowing the body to absorb proper nutrients provides the brain with the chemical environment that it needs to produce the neurotransmitters that it needs to maintain adequate sleep.”
Let Go Of Worry
When you try to fall asleep, does your mind race from topic to topic? If you answered yes to this question, there’s a good chance you’re bringing the stress of your job and external events to bed with you. It’s no wonder you can’t fall asleep when you’re thinking about what to pack the kids for lunch the next day! To calm your mind before bed, do everything you can to banish the worry and anxiety from your mind. Practice 10 to 15 minutes of yoga before bed or set aside a few minutes of mindful meditation to clear your mind. If you can’t seem to rid the racing thoughts from your head, consider getting a journal that you can keep on your nightstand. Each time a worried thought arises, write it down in the journal and let it go.
Control The Light Exposure In Your Bedroom
Did you know that the amount of natural light in your bedroom may have an affect on your sleep? When our bodies are exposed to light, it creates a natural hormone known as melatonin. Melatonin is known for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. When you lay down to rest in a dark, quiet room, it’s easy to feel sleepy or tired right away. On the other hand, if you try to fall asleep in a room with exposed sunlight, your body is naturally going to want to stay awake. To combat this, consider investing in blackout curtains or heavy shades.
You Snooze You Lose
When that early morning alarm goes off, do you immediately hit the snooze button to get that extra five or ten minutes of sleep? While you may feel like you’re doing yourself a favor by getting more sleep time in, you’re actually on course to mess up your day. When your alarm sounds and you hit snooze, you’re subconsciously telling your body that it’s time to fall back into a deep sleep. This signals hormones in the body that will work against you the next time your alarm sounds, which can result in “sleep inertia.”
Sleep inertia is that groggy feeling you get after hitting snooze five times in a row. When you interrupt your sleep at the end of your sleep cycle by pushing snooze, this feeling can last for up to 30 minutes as your brain tries to wake up. Some tips to help you stop hitting snooze include:
- Put your alarm clock on the other side of your bedroom. This may sound silly, but it may be the only way to roll out of bed to stop the alarm from sounding.
- Set your alarm for 10 minutes later than you normally would. This will give you that extra 10 minutes of sleep without hitting snooze.
Take Deep Breaths
When your mind is racing and you can’t seem to fall asleep, try taking some deep slow breaths. When you breathe deeply, it tricks your body into relaxing and letting go of tension. According to an NPR report, deep breathing stimulates the body’s naturally-calming parasympathetic system. Research has also discovered that practicing breathing exercises before bed can affect the pH of your blood, as well as your blood pressure.
We hope that these tips help you have a better night’s sleep before your trip. If you’re flying out of the Denver International Airport (DIA) and you’re looking for DIA parking, make sure to park your vehicle with ParkDIA. Visit our parking rates and options to learn more about our airport parking facility or download our mobile app online to reserve your covered, uncovered, or VIP parking space at DIA today!