It cannot be emphasized enough: sleep is so, so, so important for you. Your brain uses the hours of slumber to consolidate memories made throughout the day; sleep lowers the risk of inflammation; a good night’s rest can help improve athletic and other motor performance; and a full night’s rest will help stave off weight gain. And yet millions of Americans are reported to suffer from illnesses related to a lack of sleep. What’s up with that? If you’re feeling fatigued or languid through the day, here are 8 sleep tips illustrated by sloths just being sloths.
1. Regulate your bed and wake-up times
You need to habituate your body into falling asleep and waking up at specific times to ensure you maximize your nightly z’s. To do this, go to sleep at the same time each night (yes, even on the weekends) and wake up at the same time each morning. Soon your body will internalize the routine, and fall asleep when the set hour strikes.
2. Get adequate servings of light and darkness
Your body uses levels of light and darkness to regulate its production of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that induces sleep. Indoor and insulated lifestyles have actually worked to counteract this equilibrium.
To set it right, let as much light fall on your skin during the day – sit next to open windows, take off your sunglasses, use a light therapy box – and surround yourself with darkness at night – turn off the TV, no iPads in bed, use heavy curtains to shield from ambient light – to cue your brain into generating melatonin.
3. Get a really comfortable bed
Those with a comfortable mattress are more likely to have a good night’s rest than those without. If your mattress is too firm, it will ache your body’s natural pressure points; too plush, and the pressure points won’t have enough support. Yes, the perfect mattress can often be expensive, so use a coupon and you won’t lose any more sleep over how much you spent.
4. Don’t make your bed an office
One of the most important sleep tips of all! Make sure to honor the sanctity that is your bed: it’s meant for sleep and (cough) sex. Just like setting strict sleep schedules, isolating your bed for what it’s designed for will train your body to fall right to sleep when it comes in contact with that horizontal heaven. Then of course there’s sex, too.
5. Get plenty of exercise
If you’re body is going to take the time to recover and unwind from the day, you’ve got to give it cause to do so. If your job has you sitting in a chair all day long, make sure to rev your engine after work. But try not to cram exercise in before bed, as your elevated heart rate and metabolism might keep you awake through the night.
6. Watch what you drink
Caffeinated beverages, even when consumed early in the day, can impede sound sleep at night, and should be avoided if possible. Additionally, beware alcohol: your system will spend precious hours decomposing the sugars and ethanol in the booze instead of taking that much needed break.
7. Watch what you eat
Similarly, eating a large meal before bed will tax your digestive system at an hour it’s unaccustomed to working. That said, don’t go to bed starving: hunger pains can also prevent your body from drifting into delicious dreamland. If you’re hungry, eat a light snack that’s low in carbohydrates but high in protein.
Stress, anxiety, tension, demonic possession: all these can contribute to poor sleep. If you need help relaxing, try tensing and releasing the muscles from your toes to your head; you can also focus your mind on deep breathing (a common meditative technique); or drink some chamomile tea.
Take these sleep tips to heart and bed with you, but leave the sloths where they are – they have sharp claws and teeth.