Growing up I was a night owl and would consistently go to sleep at 2:00am only to wake up four to five hours later and get on with my day — and I know I wasn’t the only one. The thing is, unless you pay close attention over a long period of time you never notice the effect that sleep deprivation has on your health and performance in daily life.
Your body does an amazing job of hiding the fact that you’re sleep-deprived and this can have a very harmful effect on virtually every aspect of your mental and physical well-being. Over the years I’ve roughly calculated that I’m about 30% less productive when I’m sleep-deprived, and that the work I produce is of a lower quality (and has more mistakes). Considering the effect it has on our ability to reason, focus, think, and function in general, there are few things as important as getting a good night’s rest.
1. Create a nightly routine
This is one of the more important points on this list because most of us don’t have a set nightly routine. This involves creating a short, set routine of activities which you perform every night before bed.
Examples can be meditation, reading a book (preferably fiction as opposed to non-fiction to whisk the mind away from the stresses of the day for a short while), journaling, or creative work like drawing, painting, or writing.
Your nightly routine shouldn’t take more than an hour, which would mean you’ll likely want to pick two-to-three different activities maximum and stick to those. Take some time to customize your nightly routine to your life by experimenting with different activities and make sure to focus on things that will help you wind down.
2. Stick to a set bedtime schedule
One of the single most important things you can do to help improve the quality of your sleep is to aid your internal clock and fit your daily schedule to your body’s rhythm.
This is easy to do because, for the most part, it just involves sticking to a set bedtime. Pick a time to go to sleep and what time you’ll wake and do your best to stick to those times consistently. Just make sure this time fits with your body’s natural rhythm, which is generally waking sometime from around five to seven o’clock in the morning to falling asleep around nine to eleven o’clock at night.