If you’ve ever wanted to be that person — the one with seemingly limitless amounts of energy throughout the day, the one who’s never been accused of “looking tired,” the one who’s never uncaged a primal-sounding yawn in the middle of a meeting — you’re going to have to adopt some healthy sleep-related habits. If you think good sleep is achieved by resting your head on a pillow and closing your eyes, you are wrong.
To be a well-rested human being, you must fashion a routine that promotes energy throughout the day and sleepiness come sundown. This means acclimating to a proper bedtime, regulating your caffeine intake and maybe even investing in a few pairs of sleep socks. Check out the habits of well-rested people below, and start dreaming of better sleep.
Well-rested people don’t hit snooze.
The snooze button is a tired person’s worst enemy: It’s so very tempting, and offers some instant gratification, but will actually make you feel more tired throughout the day. The sleep caught after the first alarm sounds is disrupted sleep, not quality sleep. If you’re the type who sets the alarm early to enjoy the extra minutes, it’d be wise to cut the habit. Instead, set your alarm for a later time and skip the urge to snooze entirely.
And they rarely eat doughnuts for breakfast.
A portable, sugary pastry may be convenient and delicious, but it’s not the fuel your body needs to power through the day. Simple carbs like those in doughnuts and muffins offer a quick high, and soon after will lead to a crash, leaving you feeling fatigued. Yawn. Instead of a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, go for a high-protein, low-sugar breakfast like chia seed oatmeal or a hearty egg and vegetable quiche.
They don’t drink coffee after lunch.
If you’re one to grab a cup of caffeine to ward off the insufferable 4 o’clock slump, you’re perpetuating a vicious cycle. Yesterday afternoon’s caffeine is, at least in part, to blame for today’s lag, since caffeine too late in the day can lead to disrupted shut-eye at night. Experts suggest avoiding caffeine about six hours before bed , though individuals are affected differently. Doing so will help you sleep through the night and, once you’ve overcome some initial withdrawal symptoms, keep the midday fatigue at bay.
They certainly don’t smoke.
Low-quality sleep and difficulties drifting off are among the many negative side effects linked to smoking cigarettes. Even though nicotine is a stimulant, smoking depletes energy levels by reducing the flow of oxygen that reaches the blood stream. Cigarette smokers also report trouble staying asleep more often than non-smokers do. Put out the butts and have sweeter dreams.
Well-rested people talk to their coworkers during the workday.
At some offices, it’s easy to stick to the comforts behind your computer screen, but if you’re feeling a bit foggy, engaging with a colleague could give you the spike of energy you need. Chatting a bit can make you feel happier and more awake. So if you’re feeling drained, consider asking a coworker to take a lap around the office with you. The movement and niceties will help clear the afternoon head fog, and your colleague might even be able to help you do some work-related problem-solving.
They work out — and at least a few hours before bedtime.
For the most part, sleep and exercise have a direct relationship: According to a 2013 National Sleep Foundation survey, people who report exercising more report sleeping better, too. Some people do experience restlessness after vigorous exercise, so if you feel wired long after a workout, consider sweating it out earlier in the day.
They don’t rely on a nightcap.
A few glasses of wine might make you feel tired, but they won’t help you sleep through the night. An April 2013 review of 20 alcohol studies reported, among many other things, that alcohol can interrupt REM sleep and, as the buzz wears off, lead to waking up throughout the night. (Women, in particular, struggle to stay asleep when they have alcohol in their system.)
And they don’t watch Netflix in bed.
It’s a sad, sad truth, but watching an entire season of “House Of Cards” before bed won’t do your sleep any good — and not just because it’ll take 13 hours. The light from your devices can ward off sleepiness and leave you feeling drowsy in the morning. Commit to unplugging an hour before bed, and keep your gadgets out of the bedroom.
They think about pleasant, simple things before dozing off.
Keeping track of barnyard animals may not be the most restful nighttime activity, but picturing a beautiful scene or a relaxing vacation can help sleepiness set in. As HuffPost previously reported, counting sheep may require a bit too much activity to be relaxing. But imagining a soothing beach or a pretty waterfall can help you drift off faster.
Not-so-sleepy people exile their pets to the floor.
Your pup may be displeased to be banned from your bed, but you’ll be better rested for it (and, thus, better able to take him for a longer walk). Thirty percent of pet owners who sleep with their pet report waking up because of their furry friend at least once a night. You’ll sleep more soundly without your four-legged pal in bed.
And they sleep in socks.
A cold room is ideal for healthy sleep, but cold feet are not. Having warm feet (and hands) can help you fall asleep faster, so slip on your favorite pair of cozies before you get under the covers.
They don’t sleep in (much) on the weekends.
Logging the same hours of sleep each night is important for consistently good Zzs. You may want to spend your Saturday sleeping in, but doing so (as well as staying up too late) can shift your body’s natural clock, leading to something experts call social jet lag. Sticking as close as possible to your regular bedtime and wake-up time on the weekends will help you stay more in sync.