The science keeps emerging, and we’ve known it all along – sleep is super important.
As much as we’d like to think of ourselves as the exception at times, 7-8 hours of quality shuteye a night is going to be one of our greatest allies in looking and feeling better, and one of fountains of youth that we can dip into daily if done correctly.
Undersleeping in the short term messes with our hormones and can even have us feeling spaced out, anxious, and disassociated. Over the long term, the consequences of regularly undersleeping are stark – but fear not, we’ll cover a few of the essentials to ensure you can optimize your rest and sleep.
If you’ve had trouble reaching a desired weight, or finding the energy to get started on being active, there are several factors to look at, but right now we want you to be real about how your sleep is. Take a look at what keeps you up late and how you can get the less “wakening” things out of the way a couple of hours before your head hits the pillow.
Things that can deter a good night’s sleep:
Smartphones, computers, TVs, and the light bulbs in our very own home often emit a “white” light unless otherwise programmed to produce a more orange “warm” hue. This white/blue light essentially tricks our body into thinking it’s midday, which is not something you’d really want to have happen shortly before trying to rest and recover for the night. Make sure your light bulbs you use at night are far on the warm/orange end of the white spectrum, and that you set up a night mode or blue light filter on your phone, computer, and even television.
Some believe this helps with a good night’s sleep, but besides the numbing of certain emotions it may provide us, alcohol has only been shown to cause more restless nights. The more you drink close to sleeping, the worse your quality sleep will be. If you had a few too many, consider sobering up before you hit the hay.
This one’s pretty much universal knowledge, but some of us need the reminder – refrain from consuming caffeine within 8 hours of sleeping. This inhibits melatonin production, which means it doesn’t allow your body to realize that is ready to wind down and feel “sleepy”.
Things that can improve your sleep:
Read a book
Definitely a more positive affect, reading a book with a warm, bedside light can take your mind off any racing thoughts and into another world. This, especially in alternative to being in front of a screen, will prime your body and mind for it to drift off for the night. Not to mention all the benefits we can get from a good read.
Have a sleep schedule and routine
We are biologically wired to thrive off a consistent sleep schedule. The more we can find regularity in the time we decide to sleep, as well as a familiar pre-sleep routine, the closer we can get to sleeping and waking up in a fully refreshed state. Think of it as re-wiring ourselves to “get in the mood”.
Make your bedroom a sleep haven
The bedroom can be used for a lot of things, but first and foremost you can use this as an opportunity to tailor this room to your ideal sleeping environment. Figure out which pillows, sheets, decoration, blinds, etc. get you in the mood… to sleep! Consider everything from air circulation to background noise, smells, and sheet cleanliness.
Every one of these factors can either slightly or greatly enhance or sleep, which not only helps us win in life, but sure as heck will take your hard work in the gym and with your eating habits, and allow you to realize a potential that otherwise could have gone unrecognized.
Still having trouble sleeping?
A variety of emotional and physical stressors can keep us up at night, but if you’ve historically been unable to get your good night’s rest, especially if you spend 7-8 hours trying to sleep, consider visiting a sleep specialist. Some underlying conditions such as sleep apnea have affected many and gone under the radar for most of their lives.