If I just had more money, I’d be happier. If I just had that perfect someone, I’d enjoy life more. I’ll be happy once I own a house.
Thoughts like these cross our minds at some point. To some extent we are all trying to get that ‘next best thing’, or reach the next stepping stone in our life so we can set the next goal and chase that ‘something new’, but there’s already something you do each day that can make you truly happy. It’s free, it’s not a treatment, there aren’t side effects, and it’s not binging on your favorite Netflix show. Can you guess what it is?
More sleep. But does more sleep really make you happier than you are now? You’d be surprised!
Racking Up Your Sleep Debt
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), consistently failing to get enough sleep is the equivalent of spending more money than you make. Picture sleep deprivation like ‘sleep debt’, and for every night you don’t hit the minimum 8-hours, you are taking on more debt. Easy enough, right? Get a good night’s sleep and your debt is all paid off.
Not exactly. Given the opportunity (and lack of any agenda) most sleep deprived people can easily sleep for 12 hours a day, and sometimes longer depending on the severity of the deprivation and without a vacation or time off to ‘pay off your sleep debt’, you end up with a heap of sub optimal contributors to your unhappiness. Prolonged sleep deprivation can bring noticeable memory impairment, worsen your cognitive and physiological side, and hurt your ability to make decisions. These negative outcomes working in tandem can shoot your quality of life WAY down.
Not being able to remember those important things your significant other told you last night, or forgetting to run those important errands are just a couple examples of how sleep deprivation can affect your agenda. Additionally, more serious medical ailments can pop up like high blood pressure, obesity, and even depression if you stay on that route long enough – All because you didn’t get enough sleep. So, what can you do about it?
The 5 Ways to Sleep Your Way to Happiness
We’ve established that sleep is a piece to the happiness puzzle, but it’s not always that easy to get the amount you need to function at your best. Existing plans, errands you need to run, kids, pets, keeping up with friends, and the day to day motions of life can keep you from an ideal one.
Consistently Planning Your Day
It’s uncommon for people to have plans every night of the week, but for the nights you do have plans, have a window of time that you should get back by so you can still get enough sleep to tackle the next day. A single night can throw your week off if you climb into bed late. You may wake later than you need to, and could result in a later bed time the next night. Planning out when you’d like to be back by or having an early evening could help keep you on a consistent schedule.
Setting a Sleep Schedule
This is arguably the hardest part to stick by because every day is different, but consistently going to sleep and waking up within the same window helps you sleep better. When you stick to a schedule you’re telling your body “This is the time to be asleep, and this is the time to be awake”. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night it could be that your internal body clock isn’t ticking as it should. Setting a consistent sleep schedule falls hand in hand with consistent planning like we mentioned above. Some days you will be busier, and should plan better to be more efficient with your time, while other days your schedule will be lighter so you can relax more all the way up to your set ‘bedtime’. Head over to your smartphone’s app store and find a highly rated sleep app. This will keep your sleep window the same every night.
An Excellent Diet
Diet is an integral part in maintaining happiness. Not only are there foods that can boost your mood, but maintaining a healthy diet as a whole will help your body function better throughout the day so you can accomplish what you need to and allow you to get to bed at a decent time. You can sleep over the recommended 8 hours a night to start ‘chipping away’ at your sleep debt, but combining that with an inadequate diet and you could find yourself feeling sluggish. Keep in mind – if you’re far from a good diet you won’t get to a great one overnight. It takes work, but starting somewhere is better than not starting at all. Make it a point to start checking nutrition labels, eating the right portions, and of course eating on a consistent schedule.
You could probably see this one coming after we mentioned ‘diet’. Sometimes it’s not about the workout itself, but more so getting into a routine and staying motivated to actually stick to it. More exercise means higher quality sleep, and higher quality sleep means a more productive and happy you for the next day.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
The whole idea behind getting a better night’s sleep is to bring the best out in you daily, but also keep in mind sleep deprivation is just one of the underlying reasons that can cause unhappiness out of many. Maintaining relationships with the people you care about, setting goals to work towards, or finding a hobby is sometimes all it takes to make you happier. The most important thing you can do in addition to getting a better night’s sleep is combining other ways of having fun, or finding the things that bring joy to your life.
Luke runs SleepRated.com, his website is dedicated to helping thousands of monthly readers get a better night’s sleep through in depth product reviews and helpful sleep guides.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article belong to the author. No product or event mentioned is being promoted or sponsored. The information contained here is for the sake of general public information and interest.