Much like food, there is a difference between nutritional sleep and fast food sleep.
As freelancers often fall into irregular sleep habits, it’s important to not only know what your body’s sleep sweet spot is, but also to put yourself in the best position to get it. Quality sleep is just as important to a healthy and happy body as good food and regular exercise.
Check out these tips for maintaining healthy sleep hygiene practices:
Stick to a schedule
One of the most important components of good sleep hygiene is going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday. (According to our sleep poll, 40% of freelancers don’t go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, 30% do, and the other 30% are actually vampires). It might be tempting to sleep in on weekends or stay up until all hours, however, building consistent routines reinforces your body’s natural cycle which helps you get better sleep (unless you are actually a vampire, in which case none of this matters).
Exercise that bod
Regular physical activity is a great way to promote better sleep, allowing you to fall asleep quicker and sleep deeper. Sleep experts recommend working out at least three hours before bedtime to allow your body time to cool off before sleep. If you can’t get in a full workout, yoga is always a great option!
**Be mindful of what/when you eat and drink **
Finding your stomach’s Goldilocks zone is essential, a full belly doesn’t make for a good sleep, neither does a hungry one. Sleep specialists recommend not eating within three hours of bedtime. Similarly to working out, eating raises your body temperature which makes sleeping difficult. Check out the best and worst foods for sleep.
Have a bedtime ritual
Whether it be a shower or reading a book, having a bedtime ritual is essential for letting your body know when it’s time to get into sleep mode. Carrying out a consistent relaxing activity before bed will ease your body’s transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.
Unplug and turn off
Any exposure to unnatural light cycle before or while you sleep may have negative consequences for both your overall health and your quality of sleep. Try to limit TV, computer, and smartphone use an hour before bedtime. If you find that you need to fall asleep to the sound of something, consider a white noise machine.
Make your bed a place for sleep
Try to designate your bed, and your bedroom for sleep as much as you can. Of course you may have space constraints; maybe your bedroom is your living room is your office is your kitchen. If you do have the option to designate your bed/bedroom for sleeping try to make it as quiet, dark, and cool as possible. Think lush cave. Studies are showing that the optimal temperature for sleeping and also for healthy metabolisms is 66 degrees.
A watched clock never sleeps
While that makes little sense both grammatically and physically, you get it. Don’t be a clock watcher! Fretting over not falling asleep and constantly checking the clock only leads to more fretting which usually only leads to less sleeping. If you find that you can’t fall asleep within 20 or so minutes, get out of bed, do something relaxing (but not mentally stimulating, for example: listen to instrumental music or indulge in a guilty pleasure read), and try again.
Know when to seek help
If you find that you are trying everything possible, and your sleep still isn’t improving, this may be a sign of a larger sleep disorder. Consider talking to your physician or a sleep specialist to get to the root of the issue.
Freelancers, what is your best sleep hygiene tip?