Sleep is often underrated, yet most of us who don’t sleep well, crave sleep! Why is that? If you aren’t making sleep a priority then you may be damaging your health more than you know.
A good quality night’s sleep will determine the quality of not only your health but your career and relationships. Poor quality sleep may also cause:
Difficulty losing weight
Plateau or decline in athletic performance
Lack of concentration
Lack of motivation
Low mood and energy levels
Increase risk to heart disease, stroke, Type 2 Diabetes
Decreased immune system
It may be frustrating to some when they don’t even know the reason behind their poor quality sleep. Here’s a few tips on how to get the most out of your important down-time:
ENVIRONMENT & TEMPERATURE:
Creating a cool, dark, quiet space to sleep is extremely important
COOL: the National Sleep Foundation recommends 15-20 degrees Celcius (60-67F) for optimal sleep.Keep your room temperature cool and adjust blankets around it for comfort.
DARK: even small amounts of light effects our brains ability to stay asleep. This means any light from your windows or even your electronics can have a profound impact on your sleep. Buying a good quality eye mask (ask me about purchasing these) is important and blackout curtains for your room is recommended.
QUIET: in areas where you cannot seem to have complete silence, it is highly recommended to invest in some good quality ear plugs or a white noise app on your phone.
MONITOR YOUR SLEEP:
It may be surprising to most people about the quality of sleep they are actually getting. It is important to know how much sleep you are getting on average and be aware of your quality of sleep.
A simple sleep app will help you be aware of your sleep patterns
Your activity levels and quality of movement during the day will determine your quality of sleep at night.
Try to keep your exercise to early morning or early afternoon to allow for good quality of sleep.
Try not to substitute sleep for exercise – if you want to exercise you are better off going to bed earlier and waking earlier than stressing your body out late at night
Natural light exposure, particularly in the morning has great brain benefits – it will also regulate your sleep-wake cycle
Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Your body loves to have a regular rhythm.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP! The recommendation for sleep duration sits between 7 and 9. Everyone’s sleep needs differ and it may also differ at different points of their life. Use the monitoring of your own sleep cycle to adjust and determine the amount of sleep that is optimal for you.
Napping can be beneficial at times, however, try to limit your naps to under 30-60 minutes. Napping for too long will effect your sleep.
Try to avoid screens at night, if you must use screens limit your blue light exposure
“Blue light is a colour in the “visible light spectrum” that can be seen by the human eye.Blue light has a wavelength of between approximately 380nm and 500nm; making it one of the shortest, highest-energy wavelengths” – Blue Light Exposed
Turn off your electronics, dim your screens if possible (if you really want to reduce blue light set night shift on your phone – check Neurohacker Collective’s post on how to do so), invest in anti-blue light glasses if avoiding screen time is not possible
Avoid caffeine (4-6 hours) and alcohol (2 hours) before bed. Often people who can have a coffee and fall straight asleep say “coffee doesn’t affect me”. I challenge you to monitor your sleep with and without coffee after 12pm. Let me know how you go!
Just as it is important to got to bed and wake up at the same time each day for your quality sleep, it is equally important to have a settling routine before bed.
Plan your next day, read a book or have a bath before bed.
Avoid social media, this may cause more stress for your sleep!
If you have:
ongoing persistent pain
a decline or plateau in your cognitive function
a decline or plateau in athletic performance
Then commit to introducing ONE of these tips into your life. Begin with SMALL changes and implement these tips for a few months to get your sleep back on track. Slowly introduce changes each week but don't overload yourself. It’s hard for us to know how good we can really feel when we have never felt it. Commit to 30 days of improving your sleep and notice the change in your business, your relationships and your workouts!