How to Sleep Better; or I Slept Bad So You Don’t Have To

How to Sleep Better; or I Slept Bad So You Don't Have To

By Bill Cunningham

I am very good at sleeping. I was not always good at sleeping. Most of my teenage adolescence was full of terrible choices that dramatically impacted how I slept. In college, I frequently opted to stay up late to do coursework than plan and get a good night’s rest. It was not until the last few years that I started taking sleep seriously.

Fortunately, science has developed the technology (in the form of a wearable sleep tracker — I used UP24 by Jawbone) to help me dissect my slumber like I’ve longed to do. The following examples — starting with a sleep tip, and followed by a real-life example of how these things impacted my sleep patterns — will help illustrate how you can avoid sleeping poorly.

Develop a regular sleep schedule.

Sleeps-Average

This is a look at what my average sleep schedule looks like. I try to get between seven and eight hours of restful sleep each night. Going to bed at the same time every day, as well as waking up at the same time each day (including weekends), can help you build habits for good sleep.

Avoid caffeine before bed.

Sleeps-Caffeine

This is one of the more obvious pitfalls, but having a lot of caffeine near bedtime can make getting sound sleep much harder. As you can see, it took me a while to fall asleep, and then my sleep just wasn’t restful at all.

Nix booze before sleep.

Sleeps-Drinking

Another obvious sleep-destroyer, staying up late and drinking is a sure-fire way to sleep like garbage. Hangovers are more than just dehydration! On the night where I drank heavily before bed, I only got an insulting two hours of deep sleep.

Turn off your screens at least one hour before bedtime.

Sleeps-NoScreens

This one is a hard habit to break, but taking a break from TV, computers or (GASP) your phone for an hour before bed makes falling asleep and getting to sound sleep much easier. Look how restful my sleep is!

No, seriously, avoid screens at least an hour before bed.

Sleeps-Video-Games

Just in case you weren’t sold on the ‘No screens’ concept, this extreme example of screen influence shows how detrimental intensive stimuli, like video games (or live-tweeting “Scandal”) can be to falling asleep. Eventually your body can even out, but it takes quite some time.

Don’t oversleep.

Sleeps-Sunrise

Lastly, you could be having the best sleep of your life but oversleeping can be just as harmful as staying up late. This is especially true if you have a naturally lit room. Our bodies haven’t gotten the domestication memo and are ready to hunt and forage at sunrise, just like cavemen.

Hopefully these tips will lead you to start sleeping like a pro. No matter what anyone tells you, sleep is cool.

Bill Cunningham is an art director by day, and a television and movie expert by night (AKA he watches lots of TV and movies with his lady). Find him @nerdydesign

1 Comments

  1. Good tips! The biggest sleep killer for me is the caffeine. I’ve discovered the hard way that any caffeine after noon time will kick in at the worst possible time – 2 a.m. – and leave me tossing and turning. Just remembering how terrible I sleep these nights is enough to convince me to say “no thanks” when my coworkers make a dunkin’s run mid-afternoon!!

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