With your New Year resolutions panning out like never before – ya’ know, all that working out, dieting, and tango dancing you’re doing – you’re probably starting to feel pretty worn out. And, let’s be honest, you’re probably getting ready to quit. It’s okay, you’re not alone – most resolutions don’t often make it past March – if they even make it into February. So, how about trying something easier? We guarantee our suggestion will be simpler to pursue and can provide you with just as much (if not more) benefit than what you already have planned. Want to know what it is?
Sleep!If you crave it, you’re likely not getting enough. We’ve got three tricks up our sleeve, though, that’ll help you master this beast once and for all. Let’s do it.
1. Keep your schedule consistent: Here’s a page you can steal from the shift-worker playbook. In order for shift workers to stay healthy and free from exhaustion at work, they follow two simple rules: they regiment their sleep schedule each day of the week (including off days) and they consume their meals at times that parallel those waking hours. Skipping meals, or shifting one’s schedule from nights to days on the weekends throws everything off kilter. The key is sticking to a schedule. Try it out yourself for two weeks – from there, it’ll be automatic. Avoid sleeping in on the weekends, and rise and slumber near the same time each day. We guarantee you’ll feel more energized after just a few weeks of this. Need some help? Try a new app called Sleep Cycle. If you've got a smart phone, or even a newer iPad or iTouch, you can use this app to wake yourself up without an alarm clock. It's amazing. Trust us.
2. Mimic the behavior of kids: Remember when you were a kid and bedtime was set for 8 or 9pm? It was: eat, watch some TV or do homework, brush your teeth, and hit the rack. That was it. And getting up for school was pretty simple wasn’t it? Well, at least until high school when you started putting more on your plate. Extra-curricular activities, dating, television, homework … whatever it was, your later bedtime made getting up – and getting through school without getting tired – much more difficult.
Here are some questions for you to consider:
- Once you’ve eaten dinner, do you really need to sit down and watch television for three hours to relax? Why not just go to sleep and actually relax the way your body desires?
- How about bringing lunch AND dinner with you to work, so you don’t have to go home and cook, then wait two hours before going to sleep (for you acid reflux sufferers out there)?
- If you’re single, how about eating as the workday winds down instead of waiting till you get home?
- If you’re in a relationship, or married, how about popping dinner in a slow cooker in the morning so it’s ready for the both of you when you get home? This works with or without kids.
- Put in your day, do something relaxing when you’re home, and then go to bed. This may sound like blasphemy, but it’s worth a shot.
3. Get More Sunlight: Did you know you can reset your body’s clock with a camping trip? Yep. It seems the secret ingredient is exposure to the sun – something camping provides in spades. Since the invention of the light bulb, however, humans just aren’t getting enough exposure to natural light. What can you do?
- Get sun exposure soon after waking, and several times throughout the day.
- Go outside for a quick walk if you can during your workday, or, if it’s too cold to take in the great outdoors, find a window in your office with good sun exposure and enjoy the outdoors from inside. The exposure your eyes and skin will receive – even through a window – will help keep your body’s clock on track.
- Lastly, try to go without the computer and smart phone when you get home – such devices trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime. The same goes for television viewing. If you absolutely must be on your computer, use a program called Flux, which dims your screen to match the outside ambiance. Realistically, though, your parents didn’t need a computer before bedtime when you were a kid, and just a few years ago you didn’t either, so see if you can muster up the discipline to try this one out … it is resolution time after all, right?