Most of us have experienced the frustration of laying awake at 3am when we have plans the next day but for some people, this occurrence takes place far too often.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to get an adequate amount of rest. It’s important that you start getting a better night’s sleep!
A lack of sleep really isn’t something we can just live with or ignore. Tiredness can slow your reaction times behind the wheel of a vehicle just as much as driving drunk.
Fatigue causes around 100,000 road collisions every year in the US alone. It also leads to more accidents and injuries at work.
It can also cause serious heart diseases, hormone imbalances and accelerated ageing… not to mention the massive amounts of weight gain!
Laying in bed awake all night long may seem like something that is simply impossible to fix. However, with good habits and practices, there is certainly a hope that you can get a better night’s sleep.
Experts have come up with various different ways to have a positive effect on sleep, whether the sufferer is experiencing jet lag, insomnia, or simply a messed up sleeping pattern!
In this article, I will be explaining a few tips and tricks which have had a positive impact towards helping me get a better night’s sleep over the past couple of years.
Don’t just read this information – use it to your advantage and you’ll notice drastic improvements in both your sleep time and sleep quality!
Avoid Caffeine and Other Substances Which Interfere With Sleep
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good cup of coffee.
However, it’s an absolute nightmare for anybody who’s looking to get a better night’s sleep because as we all know, caffeine is a stimulant… so you want to steer clear of it in the latter half of the day.
There are plenty of other things that contain caffeine which should also be avoided. These include tea, fizzy drinks, chocolate and various pain relief tablets.
Nicotine is another compound which interrupts sleep, so avoid smoking cigarettes for a couple of hours before you hit the hay.
Another sleep-ruining substance is alcohol.
Although it may seem like alcohol knocks you out, it actually begins to act like a stimulant after a couple of hours.
This causes you to wake up more times during the night, and it also significantly reduces the quality of the little sleep you do manage to get.
It also dehydrates you, causing those annoying wake-ups in the night with a dry mouth (eurgh!).
Make Sure Your Bedroom Is Relaxing
You want your bedroom to be as relaxing and dark as possible, with minimal artificial light. Don’t sleep with the light, lamp or TV on.
Use thick curtains, blackout blinds, or even an eye mask if necessary. Light in your bedroom is a direct indicator to your brain that it’s time to wake up, so you want to keep it minimal if you’re trying to get a better night’s sleep!
Keep your bedroom cool and well-ventilated. Ensure you have a comfortable, high-quality mattress and soft pillows (this is probably the single biggest factor I’ve found when it comes to improving sleep quality).
Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only. Don’t be chilling in your bedroom during the day. You want your brain to associate your bedroom with sleep, not with video games or Facebook.
Eat a Smaller Evening Meal
It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when your body is trying to digest a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream. Trust me, I know.
Try and eat your dinner by around 7pm and be sure to eat light foods. Avoid large plates of pasta, or your favourite Texas BBQ meat feast pizza.
If you’re hungry in the later hours of the day, try to eat healthy, easily-digestible snacks.
Develop a Proper Evening Routine
It’s never a good idea to be super active all evening and then suddenly hop into bed expecting to crash out.
It’s important to allow the body time to wind down. This can be achieved through a well-planned evening routine.
My evening routine is one of the most important parts of my entire day. I take a relaxing bath, meditate, get into bed in good time and read a book until I begin to doze off.
There are many different ways to plan an evening routine and everybody’s ideal routine will be different. Check out this amazing article by Tim Ferriss on his evening routine for optimal relaxation and sleep.
My main point is to avoid stimulating and stressful activities before going to bed, for example, video games or even doing work or answering emails.
Both physical stress and emotional stress can cause the body to release a spike of cortisol – a stress hormone which increases your alertness and stops the body from relaxing.
Go To Bed When You’re Genuinely Tired
This point kind of links to the one above, but so many people complain about not being able to sleep when they’re actually going to bed wide awake.
Guys, your body isn’t going to shut off on command – you need to actually be tired!
I have a general rule where if I go to bed and I’m not tired, I’ll actually get up and read a book on the sofa or something.
Or perhaps I’ll listen to some music… anything which will help relax my mind until I feel ready to go to sleep.
Try To Keep a Consistent Sleep/Wake Time
One of the best things you can do to get a better night’s sleep is to consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
This is why jet lag is such a big problem, you’re trying to go to sleep on a completely different schedule and your body simply isn’t used to it.
Wake up and go to bed at consistent times, and try to stick as close as possible to these times on weekends, too.
Always try to stick with a schedule and wake up at the same time, even if you’re a little tired. The increased homeostatic sleep drive will help you sleep better the following night.
Let Daylight Dictate Your Pattern
The sun rising and setting keeps your body clock in a healthy pattern. It’s been this way for hundreds of thousands of years.
Try not to lay in bed all morning when it’s light outside, and similarly try not to stay up all night when you should be in bed.
I like to keep a slight gap in my bedroom in my blinds and let the sun wake me up naturally (unless I need to set an alarm) and I make sure I let plenty of light in as soon as I get up.
Also, if you work in an office, be sure to get out during the day and get some light… it’s great for your body!
Don’t Take Late Naps
Napping is something which everybody loves, including myself.
However, if you’re having issues with sleeping through the night, it could be because of your habit of taking an afternoon nap.
Napping throughout the afternoon decreases sleep drive and gives you more energy, making it super difficult to nod off later on in the night.
If you feel like you need some extra sleep, try and make your nap no later than 3-4pm and keep it to less than an hour.
Drink The Right Amount Of Water
This is a tricky one.
In order to get a better night’s sleep, you want to be drinking enough fluid to stop you from waking up thirsty during the night, but not so much that you keep getting up to pee!
The best way I’ve found to do this is to drink the majority of my fluids during the day, and then limiting my intake to maybe one or two glasses after 5pm.
Also, avoid food and drinks which irritate your bladder. These are mainly the two I mentioned previously in tip #1: coffee and alcohol.
You can read more on how to prevent nighttime urination in this article.
Exercise Early In The Day
Exercise is a great ally in our quest for a better night’s sleep. As long as it’s done at the right time, it will be of huge help in regulating your sleep pattern.
Although exercise tires us out, it also stimulates the body to release cortisol, which as I mentioned previously, makes us alert.
Get your exercise done as early in the day as possible, in order to allow your cortisol levels to drop and your body to wind down.
Exercising in the morning is ideal as it really sets you up for the day, but the afternoon is fine. I wouldn’t recommend training in the evening if you struggle with getting proper sleep.
Sleep is an issue which affects all of us, some more than others.
However, if you take action on these tips and begin to utilise them in your daily regimen, I can guarantee that your sleep quality will improve drastically.
Give your body the respect it deserves and try not to run it into the ground. Eat good food, allow yourself to rest and unwind, and watch your sleep quality soar.
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I appreciate your time, see you in the next article!
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