Health

Want to be happier? Sleep more!

Sleep is elusive in my family lately — and it’s not just limited to my sister and brother-in-law, who are trying to scrap together a night’s sleep with a one-month-old on their hands.

Sleeping woman

Sleep is elusive in my family lately — and it’s not just limited to my sister and brother-in-law, who are trying to scrap together a night’s sleep with a one-month-old on their hands.

My sleep? It’s a crazy mix of insomnia keeping me wide-eyed some nights (mornings?) until 3 a.m. — sometimes I’m stewing over a deadline, sometimes I’m just lying there. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting for sleep to come. Or then there are the nights where the hubby and I, who often seem like two parents passing in the night given both of our busy schedules, don’t sit down together until 10:30 p.m. By the time we’ve caught up on our days, outlined our weekend plans and watched a show, the clock has fast forwarded to midnight. Add to that a 3-year-old who often — and so mysteriously sometimes that it concerns me — crawls into bed with us, and I’m truly getting tired of waking up tired.

The result? Besides words swimming across my laptop the next morning as I’m trying to write, well, I’m also admittedly a crabby, snappish, and sometimes just miserable. The three cups of coffee I nurse a day don’t seem help perk me up. I wasn’t surprised to come across this study from Australia’s Happily Healthy Project, in which lead researcher Dr. Anthony Grant notes something we intuitively know — if we could just get more sleep, we’d be happier people. Those of us in our 30s and 40s seem particularly vulnerable to lacking Zzzs, thanks to a combination of raising children, managing careers, and squeezing in our social lives.

In hopes of hitting the hay earlier, better and longer, I’m revisiting some classic “sleep hygiene” tips from the American Sleep Association. And hopefully this refresher on how to get a good sleep will boost my mood the next morning. Their tips include:

  • Avoiding naps or minimizing the length of them. (Think power naps over hour-long snoozes.) Those longer afternoon slumbers tap into our “sleep debt” that ensures a good snooze at night.
  • Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day to establish a healthy sleep routine.
  • Stay off the internet in bed! (Bye bye iPhone lying next to my alarm clock…). Ditto for watching TV or reading, because doing all of these activities in bed associates your bed with wakefulness.
  • Exercise before 2 p.m. (Not sure how what I’m going to do about my 8:30 p.m. weekly hip-hop class, but at least that’s only one night a week…).

What about you? How does your sleep impact your happiness?

Want more happiness news? Follow me on Twitter @AstridVanDenB

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