How to Get the Best Sleep of Your Life

Nothing’s worse than laying awake in bed at two in the morning, churning about all the things you’ve got to do the next day and that stupid thing your coworker said and the fact that the tailor messed up that hemming job and now you have to go back to get it fixed… Right. Anyway, turns out that losing sleep isn’t just frustrating, it makes you dumber. According to a new study by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, too little sleep leads to a lack of focus, a decrease in memory and an inability to problem-solve. Plus, a sleep deficit can make us sick, look old and gain weight. Sound the alarm!

Since experts agree that we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, but most Americans average less, I asked Dr. Param Dedhia, M.D., director of sleep medicine at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ, to give me his top five tips for a better night’s sleep, and I’m sharing them with you below. Incorporate these and we’ll all be at Harvard next year conducting studies on the astounding uptick in well-rested geniuses reading my column. You’re welcome.

Breathe Deep And Visualize

Anxiety or a busy brain from a hectic day speeds respiration and revs up your nervous system, which keeps you awake. Deep breathing exercises calm both while visualization (thinking about something that makes you feel calm, happy or comforted, whether it’s a place, person, animal or moment) can induce relaxation by redirecting racing thoughts toward a more soothing mental image.

Get Out Of Bed

Don’t just lie in bed tossing and turning when you have trouble nodding off. Whether consciously or unconsciously, you’ll start to associate your bed with sleep trouble. When you can’t drift off after 20 minutes, get up and engage in something peaceful and relaxing, such as reading with a soft light, gentle yoga or mindful breathing. When you start to feel drowsy, head back to bed.

Turn Down The Thermostat

The right room temperature can affect how quickly you fall asleep. A study out of France found that people sleep better in cooler settings, between 60 and 68 degrees. Use a fan, open a window or turn on the air conditioner to get things just right in your bedroom. Another option: Take a lukewarm or cool shower or bath before hitting the sack—your body’s temperature will drop more quickly when exposed to the cool air in your bedroom.

Stop Googling Your Ex

Exposure to bright or intense light, especially the blue light emitted from electronics, can throw of your circadian rhythms. Studies have found that blue light may prevent the body from releasing melatonin, the hormone associated with promoting sleep. Turn off to turn in. Computers, tablets, smartphones and even TV should be banned from the bedroom.

P.S. If you love your bedroom, you’re more likely to feel relaxed from the minute you get under the covers. Click here for ideas for inspiring spaces.

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