When most of us think of debt, sleep isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, when it comes to getting the amount of rest that our bodies need, most of us are living in a state of delinquency. Though working on five or six hours of sleep a night might feel alright for a few days, if sleeping less than eight hours a night becomes a habit, it ends up eating away at our general health bit by bit. Not sleeping enough doesn’t just wreak havoc on your body, it can carry long-term effects for your mental health, hormonal health, and memory and mood stability as well. Here are a few ways to catch up on sleep and try to repay your debt, one great night’s sleep at a time.
Cut Out Caffeine
Most of us know that the first step to getting out of sleep debt involves ditching that extra cup of coffee in the morning. But lowering your caffeine intake isn’t as simple as switching from coffee to herbal tea. Many foods, supplements, and beverages contain larger caffeine quantities than anyone would expect. For instance, while green tea has many health benefits, it still carries enough caffeine per cup to affect your sleeping habits. If you’re weaning yourself off caffeine slowly, it’s best to stick to a cup of decaf coffee or low-caffeine tea early in the day.
Stick to Your Routine
Sometimes, when it comes to knowing when to go to bed, your body needs a bit of extra help to fight the temptations of late night chores, work emails, and binge watching your favorite shows. Whether you decide to install a sleep timer app or simply set an alarm that reminds you when to go to bed, sometimes scheduling sleep can be a helpful way of creating a habit that your body eventually learns to follow. After a few months, your body won’t need an alarm to go off to remind it that it’s ready for bed.
Shy Away From Screens
We all know that spending too much time in front of bright, blue-lit screens is a great way to decrease melatonin production and encourage our bodies to stay up all night. Whether it’s your phone next to your bed, a tablet nearby, or your television, take a minute to remove whatever’s distracting you from getting your best possible night’s sleep. If you need something to relax you at night, try taking a book to bed or listening to your favorite podcast.
Take a Warm Bath, Then Take a Nap
Nothing soothes the body into a relaxed state like a hot bath. The steam and increased temperature will relax your muscles and help you drift into a stress-free state that’s perfect for your pre-bed ritual. If you want to go the extra mile, try lighting a few candles or breathing in some essential oils after a bath to create a deeper sense of relaxation. If you’re not a nighttime bath person, think about taking a midday break on weekends to relax and catch up on your sleep debt with a short nap.
Invest in Earplugs
When it comes to getting enough sleep, sometimes we’re not the ones at fault. For so many of us who live in large cities or crowded apartment buildings, all the unpredictable, noisy activity going on around us can make catching up on sleep debt a tricky task. That’s why it’s important to invest in at least one pair of high quality, heavy-duty earplugs. Having a pair of plugs handy will ensure that you’re not kept awake through all hours of the night due to a neighbor’s party, street noises, or unscheduled construction.