When you wake up in the morning, do you feel groggy? Do you drag yourself out of bed, feeling as if you have barely slept? Sleep is one of our most basic needs as humans, yet many people fail to get enough of it on a daily basis. You may not realize it, but the negative health effects of sleep deprivation can start to set in after just one night of poor sleep.
If you feel like you could be getting more or better sleep on a daily basis, take a moment to examine your current routine. Do you give yourself enough time to sleep a full eight hours? Do you guzzle caffeine in the morning and into the afternoon? Do you give yourself time to wind down before you hit the hay? These are things you should think about, but you should also consider implementing the following daily routine to make sure you get a good night’s sleep every night.
Wake Up – 6 am
You can choose the time you wake up each morning, but for the purpose of this article, we’ve chosen 6 am. More important than the wakeup time you choose, however, is making sure that you wake up at the same time each day. Set your alarm for the time you want to get up and then actually get up! Don’t hit the snooze button or lay around in bed – get up and get started with your day.
Drink Water – 7 am
During the first hour after waking up, you should drink a full glass of water. Fill up a big glass and sip it while standing in front of a south-facing window to get your daily dose of sunlight and Vitamin D. If you want to maximize your benefits, fill up a water bottle and go for a 15-minute walk outdoors.
Eat Breakfast – 8 am
Even if you aren’t feeling hungry, it is important to start your day right with a healthy breakfast. The best breakfast is one that is rich in lean proteins and healthy fats – this will keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the morning because it provides slow-burning energy. Skip the sugary cereal, muffins, and bagels because they’ll just spike your blood sugar and cause you to crash later.
Start Work – 9 am
When you get to work, you might be tempted to start off by pouring yourself a big mug of coffee. Unfortunately, drinking coffee within 90 minutes of walking can actually keep your body from waking up naturally, so make sure to wait at least an hour and a half after waking to pour that first cup.
Drink More Water – 10 am
Coffee should not be the only thing you’re drinking at work, especially in the morning. You should plan to drink a full 8 ounces about every hour. It may help to keep a water bottle on your desk where it can be a visual reminder to stay hydrated.
Take in Some More Sun – 11 am
If you weren’t able to take in your daily dose of sun in the morning, give it another try mid-morning. If it’s cloudy, or if you don’t have access to a sunny window, consider setting up a light therapy device on your desk. You can set it on a timer and reap the same benefits as natural sun exposure without leaving your desk or missing out on valuable work time.
Eat a Healthy Lunch – 12 pm
At lunchtime, choose a healthy option like a nice salad with chicken or fish, some chopped veggies, and a handful of toasted nuts. You could also opt for a sandwich on wholegrain bread, just make sure you don’t overdo it on the mayonnaise. If you can, try to enjoy your lunch outdoors.
Take a Walk – 1 pm
After you’ve eaten lunch, go for a brisk walk if you have enough time. Exercising during the day will help with your natural sleep cycle later, and your sleep will be more restorative as well.
Put Away the Mug – 2 pm
If you’ve been drinking caffeine during the day, 2pm is the time to put away the mug. If you drink caffeinated beverages after 2pm, it can interrupt your natural sleep cycle later and affect your sleep quality as well.
Take a Power Nap – 3 pm
If you are experiencing an afternoon slump and you want to take a nap, go for it – just make sure that you don’t wait much longer than 3pm to do and limit it to 30 minutes. Short naps just 20 to 30 minutes in duration are unlikely to interrupt your sleep cycle later, but longer naps might.
Take your Supplements – 4 pm
Rather than taking them first thing in the morning, some health professionals recommend taking supplements in the afternoon. Some supplements you might take to improve your sleep include omega-3s, vitamin D3, and magnesium. You can also take melatonin at night if you struggle to fall asleep.
End the Work Day – 5 pm
You’re lucky if you have a job that ends right at 5pm and allows you to go home, leaving your work behind. If you aren’t so lucky, end your workday as soon as it is realistic and avoid taking your work home if you can. It is important to draw a line between work time and personal time.
Have a Healthy Dinner – 6 pm
To prevent digestion from interfering with your sleep later, you should have dinner at least two hours before bed. You should also try to make it a healthy, balanced meal with lean proteins, whole grains, fresh veggies, and healthy fats.
Relax a Bit – 7 pm
After dinner is the perfect time to relax and take a little time for yourself. Engage in a relaxing activity you enjoy for 30 to 60 minutes as a means of blowing off steam and relieving stress.
Time to Unplug – 8 pm
At least an hour before bed, you should put away your smartphone and turn off the TV. Too much exposure to blue light (such as from TVs and mobile devices) can throw off your body’s melatonin production which could keep you from getting sleepy at the right time for bed.
Follow Your Routine – 9 pm
In the final hour before bed, you should complete your nightly routine. Maybe you’ll take a soothing bath, read a good book, or complete your skin care routine. It’s also a good time to turn down the thermostat a few degrees because a lower body temp is associated with improved sleep quality.
Hit the Hay – 10 pm
You should be going to bed at the same time each night, making sure you have time for a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep. It may help you fall asleep to keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark so use blackout curtains and a white noise machine, if needed, to make it happen.
It may take time to adjust your sleep habits, but you will find that the effort is well worth it. Start today by making some simple changes to your routine that will support healthy sleep. Once you’re able to implement this daily routine on a regular basis, you’ll be sleeping like a baby every night of the week!