We all know that feeling after what should have been a great night of sleep, but instead of waking up refreshed, it takes all the strength you have NOT to hit snooze for the fourth time. Not only does it make it difficult to get out of bed, but it also makes functioning like an adult impossible.

 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates one in five adults don’t get enough sleep. While the amount of sleep each person needs varies person-to-person, adults need on average seven to eight hours of sleep.

 

So, how do you know if you’re not getting enough Zzzz’s (aside from feeling like you belong on set for The Walking Dead)? Lack of sleep will affect your mood by increasing irritability and anxiety and decreasing your motivation. It also decreases your ability to concentrate, increases your reaction times, and causes you to be more forgetful.

 

Not only will sleep deprivation affect your performance, but it affects your health as well. It increases your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity and causes your endocrine system (hormones!) to get totally out of whack, making it easier to gain weight.

 

Since sleep is critical for your mood, performance, health, willpower and discipline, we’ve pulled together our top five tips to getting a better night’s rest.

 

1. Limit caffeine and other stimulants to the morning. Love that afternoon latte but can’t get to sleep before 11 p.m.? Cut the caffeine or limit it to before lunchtime. Caffeine affects your body within 30-60 minutes of consumption. But, it has a half-life of three to five hours! That means it could take a good five hours for your body to eliminate HALF of the caffeine consumed (depending on your body). So, the caffeine from that 4 pm pick-me-up could be keeping you up much later than intended.

 

2. Make exercise part of your daily routine. Physical activity during the day helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. With that said, know your body. For some, vigorous exercise too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect. If that sounds like you, hit the gym in the morning or directly after work. Bottom line: get active to get those zzz’s.

 

3. Pay attention to what you eat and drink, and when you eat and drink it. Watch out for heavy meals close to bedtime or anything too spicy that might cause indigestion, especially if you suffer from heartburn. Being physically uncomfortable is a recipe for disrupted sleep. Another culprit is alcohol. While you might feel like it helps you fall asleep faster, studies show that it does not improve sleep. It reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and the more you drink, the more pronounced these effects.

 

4. Create a restful and sleep-inducing environment. Make your bedroom somewhere you want to retreat to and somewhere that induces sleep. This usually means keeping the bedroom dark, cool and quiet. Get a lot of light in your room? Try curtains that block it out as light can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Watch TV before bed? Try to do it in another room, other than the bedroom. Love essential oils? Try diffusing lavender 20 minutes before bedtime.

 

5. Say no to late night screen time. To allow your body to shift into sleep mode, dedicate the last hour before bed to a calming activity. Rather than watching TV or using a laptop, try reading or taking a nice relaxing bath. The blue light that emanates from phone screens, computers and TVs, can make falling asleep difficult as they stimulate the brain. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid electronics before bed or in the middle of the night.

 

Hopefully, these five tips will help you get better rest. And quick reminder, since we’re not doctors, if you’re really having trouble sleeping, talk to your doc for more tips on how you can help yourself snooze.