Getting a good nights sleep can be just as important for your health and well being as exercise and a healthy diet.
I could totally sit here and bore you with the science behind why getting a good nights sleep is important, but that’s not what I’m here to do and frankly, you’d probably get bored and not read the rest of this post.
What I do want to tell you is that a good nights sleep is not defined by the number of hours you sleep. It’s defined by the quality of rest. I also want to share with you some tips on how to improve the quality of your sleep.
Which brings me to the following tips. We’ll jump right into it.
1. Stretch before bed.
You know those stretches you always skip at the end of your workout? Get them in before you go to bed and your mind (and body) will thank you later.
2. Eliminate caffeine intake close to bed time.
No, I wouldn’t take your precious cup of coffee away from you. Just the one you have after dinner. Eliminate caffeine from your diet 4 to 6 hours before bed.
3. Try some deep breathing exercises in bed.
The most effective breathing technique I’ve found that has helped me calm down enough to sleep almost instantly is the 4x4x4. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breathe out for 4 seconds.
4. Eliminate blue light.
I know, this one’s the b*tch. Put that freaking phone across the room. In fact, avoid using it 30 minutes prior to going to bed. Each exposure to blue light extends your ability to sleep by about a half hour. Using the “Night Shift” on your iPhone doesn’t make it any better, there is still blue light messing with the cells that are trying to help you feel tired. Oh, and if you must watch TV, make sure it’s at least 5 feet away from you.
5. Establish a schedule.
Yes, bed time is a thing. No fun, huh? Establishing a set time to go to bed and wake up, whether its a week day or weekend helps your body anticipate time for rest. I’m not saying don’t go out with your friends because you’ll be out past your “bed time,” just become more aware of the time you set to wind down and get some shut eye.
6. Sleep in total darkness.
This one is tough for a lot of people because without a TV on for some background noise, you’re left alone with your thoughts. However, give it a go for a week and see how you feel. If you need some noise to fall asleep, use an app like Rain Rain for soothing background noise.
While exercising a couple hours before bed can cause you to take much more time to fall asleep, (I know I become wired when I workout at night) if you get your sweat on routinely, you’ll sleep much better.
8. Turn up the AC.
You don’t have to make your room feel like Antarctica, just cool it down a bit. Research suggest 66 degrees is best for sleep.
9. Use your bedroom for sleep only.
I know it’s funny, but don’t use your bed for work. Designating certain spaces for sleep and for work can really help strengthen the mental association of your bedroom and sleep.
10. Use natural sleep cycles to your advantage.
Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes. Time your sleep so that you won’t be waking up in the middle of a cycle (aka in deep sleep). It’s also much more beneficial to wait to go to sleep if you know the time you would sleep would cause you to wake up mid-cycle. I used to use an analogy of a train or bus stop. If I missed the 9:00 pm “train,” I would wait until 10:30 pm to sleep to ensure a timely wake up.
Yeah, I can totally understand that doing these things to improve the quality of your sleep can seem a bit much. If you’re seeking motivation to incorporate these things into your nightly routine, see below.
- Slim your waist
- Helps you eat fewer calories
- Improve your concentration (and productivity)
- Enhance your athletic performance
- Improve your immune system
- Make you happier!
Good enough? Now go get yourself some quality Z’s.