Sleep is critical. Individuals who regularly receive enough sleep benefit from increased mental and physical health, greater focus, improved autoimmune response, and a variety of other advantages. Consistently excellent sleep has so many benefits that if they were used to promote a health care product, most would believe they were overstated.
Despite the many benefits of adequate sleep, many individuals struggle to get a decent night’s sleep. They lie awake unable to sleep, awaken repeatedly during the night, or just never settle into a restorative deep slumber. Each morning becomes a struggle. Simply getting out of bed may require Herculean effort, and the first 10 minutes spent staggering about the home seem like a scene from Night of the Living Dead.
If this sounds like you, have no worry; there is plenty you can do to reclaim your sleep mojo. And if you currently sleep well but want to improve your sleep quality, the same suggestions may help you improve your REM game as well.
The following eight ideas may be used alone or in conjunction with one another (selecting two, three, or all of them to use at once). Whichever method you choose, exercise common sense and contact your physician if you are unsure how to effectively follow any of these suggestions.
- Early Morning Sunlight
Andrew Huberman, a Stanford University neuroscientist, advises receiving early morning sunshine to improve sleep quality. This is beneficial because the “master circadian clock” (suprachiasmatic nucleus) situated just above the roof of your mouth utilizes sunshine to coordinate the release of the hormone melatonin (from the pineal gland) later in the evening.
Melatonin, on the other hand, contributes to the sensation of tiredness and prepares you for sleep.
However, how is sunlight received by a brain structure (the suprachiasmatic nucleus)? After all, it is hidden inside the skull. The photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, which are mostly situated near the bottom of the retina, link to the master circadian clock (the suprachiasmatic nucleus). When early sunlight stimulates these retinal receptors, they transmit signals to the master circadian clock.
It’s similar to a morning wake-up call at a five-star resort—a pleasant voice informing you that the day has begun. In turn, the circadian clock initiates a checklist of biological “To-Dos” (release cortisol, change internal temperature settings, adjust downstream circadian clocks, etc.). One item on the checklist is signaling the adrenals to begin melatonin production in about 12 to 14 hours.
To get the most out of this procedure, spend five to ten minutes outside in the early morning sunshine (no sunglasses preferred). The sun is low on the horizon during the first few hours of daylight, and the particular frequency of light that happens at this time is perfect for activating photoreceptive retinal ganglion cells.
There is no need to stare directly at the sun (in fact, doing so would be detrimental, as it would ultimately result in eyesight loss, so let us avoid going overboard). Simply wake up early, activate the circadian clock, and then go about your day.
- Routines for Bedtime
Improved performance is a result of habits. To perform at their best, great musicians, doctors, sportsmen, and actors depend on habits.
For example, a professional boxer who has been taught to instinctively slide under an opponent’s right cross and counter with a left hook to the stomach followed by a left hook to the head cannot think through each step of this reaction. It has become automated—a habit—as a result of repeated repetition. He developed this beneficial automatic reaction via a routine—by deliberately rehearsing each stage of this counterattack repeatedly until he no longer needed to direct the process consciously.
Your nighttime routine has the same effect on your sleep as your morning routine does. If your pattern consists of lively phone conversations, a little TV, a little work, and an occasional shower, your sleep will suffer.
To make the most of your nightly routine, it should be constant, and like a giant aircraft descending for a landing, everything should point toward the tarmac known as your bed. This implies that you should begin unwinding two hours before sleep with calming activities. Switch off the computer, disconnect from social media, play soothing music, and avoid harsh overhead lighting.
Spend the last 30 minutes engaging in activities that you find most conducive to sleep. This may be meditating, showering, or organizing your day.
When first beginning, it’s a good idea to stick to a schedule for two to four weeks before modifying it. Routines take time to establish, so you’ll want to give each iteration of a routine a chance to succeed.
- Make Your Environment Dark and Chilly
It’s a good idea to turn off all lights in the bedroom for the greatest sleep. Yes, all of them, even the one-of-a-kind nightlight you acquired on your visit to The Gnome Reserve in West Putford, England. Indeed, let us not leave any stone unturned and ask you to turn your digital alarm clock away from your bed.
For the majority of individuals, the optimum temperature range is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit with the room completely darkened.
- Eliminate Caffeine and Alcohol from Your Diet
Sleep is divided into many phases (what some call sleep architecture). These may be classified as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep or non-REM sleep for our purposes. Although this is a broad generalization, REM sleep restores brain function, whereas non-REM sleep restores your body (cells are replaced, injuries healed, etc.).
Caffeine intake late in the day affects not just one’s ability to fall asleep, but also the quality of REM sleep that occurs. If that evening cup of coffee tastes so delicious that you just must have it, I recommend switching to decaffeinated coffee around 3:00 p.m.
Interestingly, alcohol seems to disrupt REM sleep as well. For many individuals, alcohol results in lighter sleep, shorter sleep, and often results in waking up during the night (even if they do not remember in the morning due to the amnesiac effect of alcohol).
As is the case with caffeine, the goal is to keep alcohol intake to a minimum. For the majority, a glass of wine in the evening will have little effect on the quality of sleep achieved. However, more than one glass may be excessive. Keep note of the amount of caffeine and alcohol you drink, how it affects your performance the next day, and then make educated choices regarding your caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Evening Exercise—Within Reason
There are many viewpoints on exercising before sleep. Some laud its benefits, while others proclaim that it will usher in an era of sleeplessness, much as the French do when they welcome allied troops.
Recent study indicates that each of these beliefs is overstated—that is, that high-intensity exercises occurring less than an hour before bedtime make it more difficult for individuals to fall asleep. Additionally, individuals in this category had poor sleep quality.
On the other hand, low-intensity exercises seem to have no impact on sleep or to promote sleep onset and depth. While your mileage may vary, these two distinct results should be considered if you wish to try getting in a last exercise before sleep.
Meditation promotes restful sleep. A meta-analysis of 18 distinct meditation studies including 1,654 individuals found that meditation (particularly, mindfulness meditation) was just as beneficial as conventional evidence-based sleep therapies at improving sleep.
This is an extraordinary assertion since, unlike conventional sleep therapies, meditation does not need a therapist/teacher, is free, and may be practiced in a variety of situations. Additionally, meditation has a number of other advantages.
There is currently no convincing evidence that there is a dose-effect connection between the length of time spent meditating and the degree of benefit received. However, a decent recommendation is to meditate for 10 to twenty minutes each day. Numerous manuals and websites are available to assist you in getting started.
- What You Sleep On Is Critical
Don’t be cheap; invest on a quality mattress and pillow. The quality of your mattress has an effect on your sleep. There is no need for a degree in physics to comprehend that connection.
However, I hear you moaning, “New mattresses are prohibitively expensive.” Yes, it is often true. However, there is no proof that one kind of mattress is superior than another. As a result, the market is wide open when it comes to selecting a mattress that suits both your budget and your sleeping preferences.
The trick is to try a mattress out for a few of weeks to see how well it works for you. Locate a retailer that permits this, and return the mattress if you are dissatisfied.
Could this be a little pricey? A little, but well within the means of the majority of individuals. Notify me if you are unable to afford it. I’m aware that you’re spending an absurd amount of money on shoes that aren’t even comfy (but they do make a fashion statement, correct?) or that Tommy John underwear you believe is worth $35 a pair simply to give a little buttock comfort.
Believe me, you’ll receive a lot more for your money with a high-quality mattress and pillow. Is the cost justified? Allow me to contextualize.
The average person replaces their mattress every ten years and anticipates spending about $1,100. This equates to about 110 dollars each year or approximately 30 cents every day.
Now, compare those figures to what the typical American consumer spends on coffee each year: $1,000. This equates to about 2.75 cents each day. Consider this. The yearly drain on your budget from coffee purchased to keep you awake after a bad night’s sleep on your dingy old mattress is about nine times what it would cost to replace your mattress. You will spend 10,000.00 dollars on coffee throughout the life of your 1100.00-dollar mattress.
For the love of God, cut your coffee expenditure in half for a year and invest in a decent mattress (go big and buy some nice sheets and a quality pillow).
- Make a Schedule for Your Concerns
Many individuals discover that they are, in some ways, too busy during the day to spend much time worrying about pending choices and possible problems. As a result, when people go to sleep with the day’s frantic pace behind them, these worries begin to clog their minds.
They wait for sleep by staring at the ceiling. Rather than that, their minds shift to revisiting the issues that went unresolved earlier in the day. These concerns are analogous to bill collectors who have waited patiently in line and now want access to your house to negotiate your debt.
All of this contributes to a restless night’s sleep. Not only does this keep you up later, but it also results in less restful sleep.
The answer is to schedule time in your day for your concerns early in the day. Make an appointment for them, plan it into your calendar, and provide them with a fair hearing at that particular time of day. Additionally, maintain a list of your three or four primary issues. These are the individuals that will be in charge of your time during your visit. Others must wait until one or more of these critical issues is addressed.
When you know you have time each day to solve your most urgent issues, it becomes simpler to set them aside at night when you retire. You just remind yourself that you addressed that stress area today and that it is scheduled to be addressed tomorrow. You’ll eventually figure it out, but for now, you can sleep.
While you are obligated to incorporate sleep as a significant component of how you spend your life, you do have considerable control over how to enhance the quality of your sleep. By taking control and following one or more of the recommendations above, you may significantly enhance your sleep. Increased energy, improved mental concentration, a more positive attitude, and improved health are all waiting for you to take the first step.