We blog a lot about sleep. The reason for this is because sleep is just as important as (some people argue that it’s even more important than) exercise and nutrition. Check out these 5 tips on how to get a healthy sleep.
With lengthy work weeks to complete and pressing social engagements to attend, a huge number of people cut back on one of the most essential parts of healthy living: getting enough sleep. From increased ambition to enhanced cognitive function, the benefits of deep sleep are well known and impossible to ignore. Many of us, in search of these benefits, use the flawed tactic of judging our sleep based on the amount of time spent in bed.
While it’s essential to sleep for enough time, it’s more important to get quality sleep. Read on to learn about how you can optimize your sleep to give yourself more energy, enhanced mental function, and a greater quality of life.
1. Keep a consistent sleep journal
The famous saying, ‘what gets measured, gets managed’ applies to far more than just big business. When your sleep cycle is inconsistent and poorly measured, it’s hard to make positive changes that improve your quality of life.
Keep a diary beside your bed and write down a note whenever you wake up during the night or have trouble sleeping. This will help you keep track of your sleep habits and notice patterns that are affecting your sleep quality.
Writing notes during late-night bouts of insomnia also another advantage: it clears your mind of pressing matters that can stop you from sleeping. Use your journal to log ‘to do’ tasks for tomorrow so that you’re not stressed while you try to sleep.
2. Go to bed as soon as you feel tired
Most of us artificially prolong our waking hours by fighting off late-night sleepiness. If you feel tired during the evening – even if it’s several hours before your usual bedtime – take note of the signal your body is sending and head to bed.
While some bouts of daytime tiredness – the 2PM ‘energy crash’ in particular – are not prompts to sleep, feelings of tiredness that strike you at night are an important signal from your brain that your body needs to go to sleep.
3. Sleeping too late? Practice ‘sleep resets’
If you’re finding it difficult to stick to a consistent sleep schedule, try ‘resetting’ your internal clock by going to bed early. Many self-proclaimed night owls are stuck in an artificial circadian rhythm that causes them to feel tired during the daytime.
Reset this artificial internal clock by going to bed early one night and giving your body a hard reset. If you struggle to fall asleep before your usual bedtime, using a hormonal sleep drug like melatonin sparingly is often a good idea.
4. Avoid caffeine and stimulants after 4PM
Caffeine is fantastic for an early-morning boost, but it’s terrible when it comes to managing your internal clock. Consuming caffeine after 4PM artificially prolongs your body’s period of alertness, making it difficult to fall asleep during the night.
If you find it hard to sleep before midnight, try reducing your caffeine intake during the afternoon. Workout supplements and energy drinks are also best avoided, as the stimulants they contain can often keep you awake well into the night.
5. Eat a low-sugar meal before sleeping
Have you ever woke up feeling weak and overly tired? When your body is asleep for eight hours at a time, it needs a source of slow-burning energy to keep its important recovery processes operating at maximum efficiency.
Try consuming a protein-rich meal before bedtime to increase your morning energy levels. A scoop of casein protein powder mixed in milk is great, as is cottage cheese, walnuts, and other protein-rich foods with mono- and poly-unsaturated fats.
About the Author
These sleep tips were provided by Odd Mattress, the UK’s top supplier of mattresses for improved sleep and quality of life. Visit their website to learn more about how special mattresses can improve your sleep quality.
Sometimes when I want to reset my sleep clock, I’ll only allow myself 5 hours sleep. That night I’m ready for bed at an early hour and I hit the sheets! Do you have any sleep tips for optimizing your sleep cycle?