#1 It’s Bedtime!
I’m afraid it’s time to go back to your routes, and adopt a bedtime. “What? But I’m not a 12 year old child?”. Be that as it may, heading to bed at a reasonable time is essential if we wish to get a good nights sleep. Specifically, we want to try head to bed at around 10pm. Research suggests that there is a ‘golden window’ during which we need to sleep, between the hours of 10pm-2am. During this time, our body is hard at work when we sleep, secreting huge amounts of hormones to help us recover from that long day of work. So 8 hours of sleep during this window will work wonders for your energy levels the next morning.
#2 Avoid Big Meals Before Bed.
There are often days where we don’t get a second breath, sometimes meaning we don’t find the time to eat. Understandably, this can lead to overeating late on in the evening. This is not necessarily the best thing in the world when we are looking to go to sleep an hour or two afterwards. Some studies have shown the role of tryptophan in causing sleepiness, given its relation to serotonin and melatonin, which are both involved in helping us sleep. However, research on this is controversial, as many scientists believe that the tryptophan found in food is is not enough to affect our sleep. Still, try to avoid a big meal right before bed. As a general rule try and have dinner at least three hours before you hit the hay.
#3 Put Down The Phone!
Have you ever wondered why we find it more difficult to wake during the winter time? As the days get shorter, it becomes darker. Our bodies are trained to induce sleep when light fades. So when we wake up and it is still dark, your body has not begun to wake you up. The same principle applies to smartphones or any technological device. The light emitted from your phone, iPad, TV, PC, whatever it is, causes melatonin production to slow down. This hormone helps us to sleep, so less of it is bad news for us sleep lovers. As a result, we feel more awake. So instead of checking Instagram before bed, read a book or listen to some calm music.
#4 Chill Out!
When you go to bed, ensure that the conditions of your room are not uncomfortable. Particularly, you should be looking to sleep in colder conditions. Keeping your room between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit helps to initiate rest. Therefore, the colder your room, the quicker you will find your core body temperature dropping to get you ready for sleep. Plus, it forces your body to produce more levels of our old friend melatonin, also preparing you to get some shut-eye.
I know it’s not possible all of the time, but having a good relax before you go to bed can really do wonders for your sleep. It is easy to become distracted when you go to sleep, particularly if you are stressed about something. But we as sleep specialists, need to avoid these feelings of stress, as it can result in the production of cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol are associated with increased alertness, which is exactly what we want when we head to sleep (sense the sarcasm). If you find relaxation tricky, there are a few techniques that you can use to improve your skills. Progressive muscle relaxation involves the tension and relaxation of your body’s major muscle groups, a great way to reduce some of the physical tension you might have been carrying throughout the day. The use of imagery is also a technique that I have been using for a long time. It involves immersing yourself in a calm and peaceful imaginary environment, giving you more control over your mind and feelings of stress. So, take a breath… and relax. 🙂
Take-home message. Hopefully you can apply some of these tips to your life, to help improve the quality of your sleep. Don’t try to implement them all in one go, instead, adopt each one over a period of time. That way you make sure that these habits become embedded in your routine. Remember – the quality of your sleep can also determine how you feel, so don’t neglect it!
Let us know down below what you do to help improve the quality of your sleep. It is quality over quantity, or do you disagree? We are curious to hear your opinion! 🙂