How well you feel during the day is often reflected on how well you sleep at night. Similarly, the cure for your sleeping difficulties can often be found in your daily activities and lifestyle choices. For reminder of why your body needs sleep, you can see a simple infographic i posted a little while ago HERE.
You can experiment with some of the following ideas to see what helps you improve your hours of quality sleep so you can feel more productive, mentally sharp, emotionally balanced and full of energy all day long!
1.Keep in sync with your bodies natural sleep-wake cycle.
Getting in touch with your bodies natural sleep-wake cycle, circadian rhythm, is one of the most important strategies to sleeping better. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time everyday – this helps you regulate your sleep-wake cycle to optimize your sleep quality. Avoid sleeping in, even on the weekends (WHHHAAAATT!) yes i just said that. The more your weekend/weekday sleep schedules differ, the more jetlag like symptoms you will experience – if you need to make up for a late night, opt for a daytime nap to repay the sleep debt. However if napping is interfering with your ability to get to sleep at nighttime – then reduce nap time.
2.Control your exposure to light
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making you sleepy—and less when it’s light—making you more alert. However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm. During the day; expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning, spend more time outside in the daylight, allow natural light into your workspace. At nighttime; avoid bright screen 1-2 hours before bedtime (this includes TV, phones, laptops, computers, tablets) and when it’s time to sleep – make sure your room is dark!
Regular exercisers sleep better and feel less sleepy during the day. Exercise also increases the amount of time we spend in deep, restorative stages of sleep. The vigorous the exercise, the more powerful the benefits and it can take a couple of months for these benefits to translate, so be patient and focus on building exercise habits that stick!
4.Be smart about what you eat and drink
Your daytime eating habits significantly affect how well you sleep, especially in the hours before bedtime. Limit caffeine and nicotine – this is a bit of a no brainer but did you know both of these stimulants can still disrupt your sleep up to 10-12 hours after consumption?! Avoid alcohol – whilst a night cap may help you relax, it will disrupt your cycle once you’re out. Avoid rich, heavy or spicy meals to close to bedtime – these can contribute to indigestion and sluggish digestion.
Residual stress, worry and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well. Developing a “bedtime routine” 1-2 hours before bed will assist you to clear your mind, relax and promote sleepy time! Stress management is difficult to advise on as a universal system – some people will respond really well to meditation, others a hot bath, or reading, or exercise – its a very individual prescription. But recognition of stress is the first important step!
6.Improve your sleep environment
Keep your cool, dark and quiet. Make sure your bed is comfortable – its such an important investment, think about it, you sleep on it EVERY NIGHT for at least 10-15 years – sort of works out to be cost effective over time! Reserve your bedroom for sleeping and “getting jiggy” – by not working, watching TV, or using your computer in bed, your brain will associate the bedroom sleep and sex, making it much easier to wind down!