Get sunlight every morning.
When you're not commuting to work, spending all morning indoors can be easy. However, sunlight has an important purpose: it stops the release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. "Most of the morning brain fog is caused by continued melatonin production," said Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and author of The Power of When. "When sunlight hits your eye, it sends a signal to your brain telling the melatonin faucet to turn off." Try to get at least 15 minutes of sunlight each morning.
Make your bed an oasis.
Working from home – sometimes from our beds – has blurred many of the lines between work and sleep. But when you turn your mattress into an office, your brain can view your bed as a place that gets you stressed and alert, which can lead to insomnia. This is why sleep experts say you only need to reserve your bed for two activities. "The bed is for sleeping or for sex," said Dr. Roses. “If you don't do any of these things, get up. If you have the luxury of moving to another room, that's even better. You have to break the association to be awake in bed. "
Exercise for better sleep.
The pandemic caused people to limit their physical activity. But exercise is the easiest way to improve sleep, said Dr. Breus. "Sleep is relaxation," he added. "If you have nothing to recover from, your sleep won't be great." At least 29 studies have found that daily exercise, regardless of type or intensity, helps people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, especially among middle-aged and older people. According to the Sleep Foundation, people with chronic insomnia can fall asleep about 13 minutes faster and gain up to 20 extra minutes of sleep per night by starting an exercise routine. One caveat: stop your workout at least four hours before bed or it could disrupt your sleep by increasing your core body temperature, said Dr. Breus.
Cut off caffeine at 2 p.m..
Caffeine has a half-life of six to eight hours and a quarter-life of around 12 hours. That is, if you drink coffee at 4:00 p.m., "you still have a quarter of the caffeine in your brain by 4:00 a.m.," said Dr. Breus. Avoiding caffeine in the evening is a breeze. But ideally, you should avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. This gives your body enough time to metabolize most of it and remove it from your system.
Follow the two drink rule.
If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to two drinks in the evening and stop at least three hours before bed. Alternate each drink with a glass of water. Because alcohol is a sedative, some people drink a nightcap to help them fall asleep faster. But alcohol suppresses REM sleep and causes sleep disorders that worsen the general quality of sleep. "The closer you drink before bedtime, the worse your sleep will be," said Dr. Breus.
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When to seek help
The occasional bout of insomnia is nothing to worry about. But if you change your sleep routine and nothing seems to be working, it may be time to see a doctor. A sleep specialist can determine if you need cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or other treatment. Or it could be that you have an underlying sleep disorder, such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea. A doctor would examine you to find out.
For help, visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine website, sleepeducation.org, and enter your zip code to find a local sleep doctor or provider. "Do not suffer in silence," said Dr. Abbasi-Feinberg. “Ask for help if you need it. There are sleep medicine specialists everywhere, and that's what we're here for. "