Here are the seven things a Harvard sleep scientist does to make sure he isn't exhausted the next day.
Everybody knows that sleep is fundamental to work and getting through the day, but many of us lack enough sleep or have trouble going to sleep. Patrick Fuller is an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School who has some pointers to get a good night’s sleep every night.
Here are the seven things a Harvard sleep scientist does to make sure he isn’t exhausted the next day.
If you wake up late one day and sleep in the next your body can’t get used to a certain schedule and it’s harder to fall asleep or wake up the next day.
“When people get up later and later, they have less sleep drive and they think, I can’t sleep I have insomnia,” Fuller said. “Well, no, actually your sleep drive isn’t that high.”
Consuming caffeine can take up to six hours to wear off. Skip the mid-day espresso or coffee altogether and choose a less jolting alternative like green tea.
“I just prefer tea,” Fuller said. “I love the smell of coffee, it just has too much caffeine for me.”
Having a light workout will ward off nearly every type of illness and makes it easier to hit the hay. Just make sure not to do any strenuous exercise before bedtime because it increases your body temperature and makes it harder to fall asleep.
“Maintaining some level of physical activity is really important.”
Some people believe that alcohol can help you fall asleep at night, and it can relax your muscles, calm your nerves and help you sleep.
“But the problem is that the alcohol effects wear off and you’re stuck in the middle of the night awake, staring at the ceiling. You’re already in withdrawal.”
Alcohol before sleeping can decrease your REM sleep, which is the deep and restorative phase of sleep.
Dimming the lights helps the body to produce melatonin, which is a hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep at night. If you have all your lights on your body is constantly alert and that makes it harder for your body to get ready for bed.
“My wife thinks I’m a little weird because I start dimming the lights,” Fuller said. “But I really feel like it sets the mood for my sleep.”
Turn off all screens before you go to sleep. Bright blue lights from smartphones and tablets counteract the production of melatonin your body uses to sleep. It tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime and can damage your memory, increase risk of depression and even cancer.
Going to sleep at the same time every night will make it easier to wake up the next day
Getting too much or too little sleep from your regular schedule can throw off your entire routine.
“I try not to be neurotic about it,” Fuller said. “I try not to be neurotic about anything I do.”
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