We all know how important sleep is for managing our weight, mood, and productivity—and yet we still don’t get enough of it. Although you may not have time to get your full eight hours of sleep, you can maximize the sleep you do get by falling asleep faster and snoozing through the night, which will lead to less groggy mornings and more energy throughout the day. Here are the top five reasons why you’re not getting an effective night’s sleep and how to fix them.
1. Hydration. You already know how important staying hydrated is for your overall health, but there’s a very good reason why dehydration is keeping you from having your best sleep. Your brain is very active during sleep, so it needs a lot of water to power all the processing it’s doing while your body is resting. Dehydration, a chronic condition among Americans, will interrupt brain function. You’ll wake up groggy and ill prepared to focus throughout the day. Make sure to drink at least eight cups a day and add a cup of water for every cup of any other beverage you may have, especially coffee!
2. Sunlight vs. Artificial Light. Sunlight and fresh air are essential for your body’s circadian rhythm—or its ability to establish a regular wake and sleep cycle. If you feel tired throughout the day but can’t fall asleep at night, this may be why. Artificial light is also the number one factor in grogginess. You’ve probably stared at a computer screen all day so looking at your phone or TV screen is only going to make it harder to fall into a deep sleep. Simply having artificial or blinking lights on in your room can also keep you from getting a good night’s rest. Cover your cable box and make sure not to fall asleep with the lights or TV on.
3. Exercise. This is a no brainer, but exercise is a great way to maintain energy throughout the day and fall asleep faster at night. Just another of the many reasons you should workout 30 minutes a day at least three days a week. Make sure you’ve really sweated it out by the end of your routine!
4. Temperature. We are all tempted to turn the heat up or bundle under layers of blankets in the winter, but you’ll get a much better night’s sleep in a cooler room. You’re more prone to waking in a hot room so keep the temperature at 65° or even 60° if you like to wear your fuzzy onesies pajamas to bed.
5. Too Full vs. Too Hungry. You should never go to sleep after a big meal, but going to bed hungry can cause you to wake up or make you uncomfortable throughout the night. Eat a high-protein meal a couple of hours before bed. Eggs, meat, beans, and other protein-packed foods will keep you feeling full even when you give yourself enough time to digest before hitting the sack.