Written by Coach Liam
Sleep is a fundamental necessity for the body to function and can dictate the overall quality of our health. Sleep helps the body recover from the physical and mental stressors we are exposed to throughout daily life. This article is going to suggest a few tips and consideration that can hopefully enable you to improve your duration and quality of sleep.
Being physically active during the day is going to encourage your body to sleep at night. Making exercise a part of your daily routine is going to improve your sleeping routine. However, we must also consider that exercise generate endorphins and working out vigorously right before bed isn’t ideal this can make it difficult to sleep. If you find yourself in a position where you have a lot of energy and cannot sleep a gentle walk, or some yoga may be worth consideration.
Stay Away from Stimulants
What and when you consume will affect how you sleep. You want to stay away from substances and foods that can keep you up. Caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, energy drinks can give you a buzz and spike your blood sugar, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Additionally, certain types of alcohol and nicotine will do the same.
Develop a Bedtime Routine
Just as you probably have a morning routine you complete most days; you should also have a bedtime routine. You’ll want to get into the habit of winding down before you jump into bed. Avoid activities that stimulate the mind such as work projects, planning, or worrying. Also avoid trying to purposefully fall asleep, since it can induce a cycle of frustration that then prevents you from dozing off. If you’re anxious about the time or falling asleep, it may be best to get out of bed and do something else to relax and distract your mind.
Your Sleeping environment
When you go to the gym you expect to see barbells, dumbbells and people working out, similarly, when you work in an office you expect to see computers and desks. These are commonly expected and accepted truths. Now imagine yourself at a restaurant you order a nice meal with friends or family. Your food arrives and everyone begins eating, however, you notice that you have no cutlery and therefore can not eat your food yet. I would like you to consider this when we discuss your sleeping environment. Just as it is much harder to train with no kit, work with no computer and eat without cutlery if your sleeping environment is terrible you are not going to get the sleep duration and quality you want or deserve.
Noise can be a big disturbance to not only your ability to fall asleep but also the quality of your sleep. External noise can come from traffic, family members or housemates and even loud neighbours. If your sleeping environment is often polluted with noise, try getting some earplugs to improve the quality of your sleep.
Your best sleep cycles happen in a dark environment. This means any visible light can affect your ability to fall asleep. If you suffer from sleeplessness, blackout curtains or sleep masks can help. Be sure to power down your television, computer, and other light-emitting appliances before bedtime.
People often find that they struggle to sleep in the peak of summer due to the temperature. If the temperature is too hot or too cold this can disrupt your sleep schedule. The American Sleep Association recommends a room temperature between 15.5°C and 19°C. If you find yourself too hot or too hold this can be overcome by using an extra blanket during the winter or using a fan in the summer.
Compartmentalise your space
With the luxury and convenience of technology, it is not uncommon to find your electrical devices right beside your bed. However, you need to compartmentalise your space, if you are checking emails and social media in bed on your smartphone you are training your brain to remain alert and active to perform these tasks. This will make it harder to wind down and shut off when you are looking to go to sleep. Just like when you to the gym you are prepared to work out when you go to bed you need to be prepared to sleep.
Making Time for Sleep
It is easy to schedule work meetings, gym classes and socialising with your friends so why not consider planning your sleep. We should be aiming to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night and this should be factored into your daily routine. Now I know there are times when there are not enough hours in the day to complete everything. However, if you find yourself regularly getting only 4 hours of sleep, even achieving 5 hours is an improvement. Try to turn in at the same time every night so your brain will get into the habit of knowing when it’s time for sleep mode. If you’re a napper, limit naps to 30 minutes per day, and take them before 5 p.m.
To conclude this post isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel as I am sure most of you reading this will know all the above points. However, I also know most of us do not put these points into action. Hopefully, by reading this you will be able to highlight areas in your daily life that may be disrupting your sleep routine and now look to enhance the quality and duration of your sleep cycle.