LISA LELAS: The secret to productivity — sleep

Lisa Lelas

Most would agree it’s more difficult responding to an early alarm clock in the fall.

Mornings can be cooler and darker these days, making us want to crawl back into the warmth of our bed covers. If you are consistently having trouble getting up in the morning, you might not be getting enough sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, average adults require between seven-nine hours of sleep nightly. Recent studies found that two thirds of Americans do not get that required amount of sleep.

Why is this a concern? Inadequate sleep results in stress, lower motivation, slower reflexes, memory loss and even weight gain (due to slowed glucose processing resulting in more frequent carb cravings during the day). Insufficient sleep can even shorten our life, due to higher levels of hypertension and diabetes.

Sleep is restorative, both physically and mentally. It’s as important to our bodies as oxygen, food and water. When you have adequate sleep, you will be better focused, more creative and more productive throughout the day. So, if you are sick and tired of being tired, here are a few tips to help you start getting more sleep:

Make sleep a priority. Don’t put it aside for one more task or one more TV show. Remember how important it is and how much better you’ll feel in the morning.

Sleep on a good bed. Your mattress should be comfortable in order to sleep well.

Keep your bed made during the day. Research shows having a neatly made bed with crisp linens will actually help you fall asleep faster.

Create a bedtime routine. An hour or so before bed time, turn off the TV and the computer screen (which are stimulants) and partake in a quiet activity, such as reading.

Lower the thermostat. The ideal temperature for sleep is 65-68 degrees. Consider placing a fan in your bedroom, if needed.

Eat dinner a little earlier. Don’t go to bed with a full stomach. A spike in blood sugar from some foods can affect sleep.

Reduce caffeine. Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening.

Curb the alcohol and quit smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep, and alcohol, while it may appear to make you sleepy, actually just interferes with a restful sleep.

Work out. Regular exercise helps improve sleep.

Draw the window shades. The darker the room, the better you’ll sleep.

Clear bedroom clutter. Keeping your bedroom neat and tidy will help ease mental clutter and help you relax.

Ease the stress. One of the biggest obstacles for falling asleep is anxiety and stress. Find a creative way to ease your stress, such as taking up yoga, meditation or even keeping a journal to jot down things you are worried about, to release tension.

Get outdoors during the day. It’s invigorating, no matter the weather, to spend some time each day outdoors, especially during peak sunlight hours. This helps regulate your body’s melatonin level and your sleep/wake cycle.

Soak in a hot tub before bed. Relaxing in hot water for 20-30 minutes will calm you and signal your body for sleep.

Wear socks to bed. A warm pair of socks causes blood vessels to dilate, lowering your core temperature, which induces sleep.

Stick to the same sleep/wake times, even on weekends, if possible.

Here’s wishing you a restful night of sleep tonight…and a joyful, more productive tomorrow!

Connecticut Media Group