Exhausted? Of course you are. Doing anything about it? Throwing back coffee doesn’t count, so probably not. What you really need is to clock more time between the sheets.
Problem is, basically everything keeps sweet, sweet slumber at bay. Stress, noise, work, all that time you need to spend at the bar throwing down shots, you name it; it’s all conspiring to keep you from getting the shuteye you need. Since catching too few zzz's can screw you up pretty badly, try a few of these tips to make sure you get shuteye no matter what situation you're in.
Pencil it in
If you think bedtimes are for babies, get over yourself. “You can’t change your bedtime every single night of the week,” says Dr. Raman Malhotra, sleep expert and co-director of the SLUCare Sleep Disorders Center. “Your body doesn’t like being irregular.” So figure out what time works best for you (keeping in mind that adults should get seven hours of sleep per night, minimum), and stick to it as much as you can.
Set up a "relaxation buffer" before you pass out
Malhotra says negative and stressful behaviors can -- surprise! -- screw up your sleep, so maybe don’t Facebook stalk your ex or pay your bills right before bed. Also, make sure that your room is relaxing; shelling out for a comfy mattress and bedding may feel like a luxury, but it's actually one of the soundest expenditures you can make. And for crying out loud, tear yourself away from your electronics before bed; the light that comes out of those things messes with your circadian rhythm, which impacts your sleep-wake cycle.
Get your sweat on
Yeah, yeah, yeah, exercise is good for you. But it's not just about weight loss or living longer (those are nice, too). Exercise can improve the quality of sleep, which means that even if you're allotting the same amount of time you normally would to sleep, you'll feel better. And it really only takes about two and a half hours of exercise per week to get better sleep and feel more alert during the day. The best part is that the kind of exercise you do doesn't seem to make much of a difference, as long as you're doing something.
That said, timing is everything here. Working out right before you hit the sack can lead to a rotten night’s sleep, so try to hit the gym three hours beforehand.
Suck it up and start meditating
The benefits of meditation are pretty well established, so if you're struggling with exhaustion and nothing has worked, it might be time to get on board with it. Among meditation's many useful qualities is its ability to help you sleep. And you don't even need to own a robe or attend meetings where you're required to chant! In fact, if you're looking for the big guns when nothing else has worked, meditation might be your best bet, as it seems to outperform other conventional strategies for improving sleep.
Drown out your noisy environment
As city dwellers know well, it’s hard to escape the cacophony going on outside your home -- or maybe inside if you have kids, roommates, or a very noisy S.O. While there’s not much you can do to silence some of it, that shouldn’t mean sacrificing sleep quality. One solution: invest in a white noise or sound machine to drown out some of the racket, suggests Malhotra. Or just add earplugs.