In a world filled with technology, deadlines, and never-ending schedules, finding the time to create a proper sleeping schedule seems impossible. While it’s easy to push sleep down on your list of priorities, your health could be paying the price. A lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain, headaches, falling asleep while driving, and many other serious health risks. March is home to national sleep awareness week, so we figured it would be the perfect time to help you take steps towards improving your sleep schedule!

Create a Routine

Sleep schedules require consistency. You should aim to go to bed at the same time each night. Give yourself thirty minutes to an hour to decompress before falling asleep. This time should be spent away from electronics and stimulating activities. That’s right – no more falling asleep with the TV on in the background! Just as much as going to bed at the same time each night is essential, so is waking up at the same time. You should sleep 7 to 9 hours per night, every night.

Track Your Sleep

If you’re having trouble getting your 7 to 9 hours per night or find yourself waking up still feeling tired, it’s time to start tracking your sleep. Most smartwatches and fitness tracking devices on the market today have built-in sleep monitoring features that allow you to see your time spent awake, restless accurately, and in a deep sleep. If you don’t have one of those devices, manually track your sleep the best you can. If you begin to notice a particular time of night each night when you’re restless, try to find out what the common denominator is. If nightmares are keeping you awake, a dream journal is a great way to get the thoughts out.

Cut Down on Caffeine

If you have a caffeine habit, it’s time to curb it. Caffeine intake throughout the day can lead to insomnia at night. Try to limit your caffeine intake throughout the day and avoid it all together after lunchtime. Replace your caffeinated beverages with decaf teas that promote sleep or another drink of your choice. This will soon become a part of your nightly routine that we discussed and before you know it, just reaching for the mug will make you start to feel drowsy!

If your efforts to improve your sleep schedule continue to be unsuccessful, contact a sleep specialist to undergo a sleep study.