Getting a quality nights sleep is one of, if not the most important variable in one’s life to improve daily brain function, longevity, and overall performance in all areas of life. We all know this, yet many off us are lacking in this area. Thus, here are 9 hacks which I have found to work wonders for my sleeping habits and have allowed me to excel in many areas of life.
#1) No Exercise Immediately Before Bed
Most forms of physical exercise are a big no-no, if they are done right before bed. Taking part in these activities will raise your cortisol and adrenaline levels, or your “awake hormones”. It’s difficult to fall asleep with high levels of either. Think of being totally pumped for a race, speech, or you’re about to get in a fight. The last thing you want to do is fall asleep. Light Yoga, Meditation, or breathing exercises on the other hand are perfectly fine before bed.
#2) Don’t Drink Coffee Late In The Evening
Coffee has got to be one of the most effective legal ‘drugs’ available. It allows your brain to perform at heightened levels of precision for an extended period of time. However, your brain, like all muscles, needs to rest after a period of high-use and strain. Therefore, it is advised to avoid drinking to much, or any coffee, late in the evening. You should leave at least 6 hours between your last cup of coffee and when your head hits your pillow at night.
#3) Keep Stress Levels To A Minimum
There is nothing that acts as more of a deterrent to falling asleep than having a worried mind. Stress has the ability to break a person down. Strive to solve or discuss any problems that may be troubling you before you attempt to go to sleep. If you don’t, your mind may wander for hours while you try to silence your thought’s and sleep at the same time.
#4) Track Your Sleep Quality
With a plethora of apps out there today, and with the vast majority of us owning some form of smart device, there really is no excuse here. Simply open up the app store to your respective handset creator, whether it be Apple, Android, Microsoft, Blackberry etc. and find a ‘Sleep Tracking’ app that you like by searching for that exact term. These apps will tell you how much deep sleep you are getting per night, how much time you spend trying to get to sleep and so on. Many of the free versions even present this information to you in helpful graphs and charts.
#5) Wake Up At The Right Time
Did you ever go to bed nice and early, get a solid 7-10 hours sleep but still felt groggy and sleepy when you woke? I know you did, and guess what? So did I. This is all to do with your Circadian Clock. This clock, among other things, essentially decides when you enter and exit your ‘deep sleep’ cycle. This is when you are at the height of your night’s sleep and when you also dream. You should not be woken up in the middle of this cycle as that is what will make you feel tired, even after you have slept for quite some time. The fact is, it is really is to prevent this nuisance. Many of the apps I spoke about in the last section will track when you get into bed and fall asleep and subsequently set an alarm to wake you up when you are in your lightest stage of sleep. However you can measure this yourself too, to a certain degree of accuracy and set your own alarm. Simply google ‘healthy sleep cycles’.
#6) Fill Up At Least 3 Hours Before Bedtime
It’s very important to eat a good wholesome dinner each and every day of the week if you are to have a truly revitalizing night’s sleep. The truth of it is, since the birth of man, there have been four very important aspects to our lives: shelter, food, mates, and sleep. In the case of food and sleep, we have always strived to fill up on food before we go to sleep, and nowadays, nothing has changed. We need a full stomach to feel relaxed and fulfilled before we can get a healthy night’s sleep. However, we have a tendency to eat large meals late at night, due to work, meetings and other obligations. We should avoid having our largest meal of the day so soon before bed as we will end of digesting our food while we try to sleep. This takes up energy, and the consumption of energy has the potential to keep us awake. I believe you should also be somewhat active when digesting your food, as it can make you feel lazy & groggy which will cause you to ‘slack’ or ‘under-perform’ in whatever you are doing at the time.
#7) Keep A Pen And Paper Close
How many times have you remembered something important when you are in bed trying to go to sleep? How many times have you spend half of the following day trying to remember what it was? This can sometimes be a problem for all of us, but there is an easy fix. Simply keep a pen and paper next to your bed so that you can easily jot down any idea’s you may think of, without disturbing your sleep. Also note that using your phone to take note of these ideas would be a big mistake as the bright light would wake you up!
#8) Avoid Bright Lights Soon Before Bed
This one you probably already know, but it’s no harm to remind you anyway. Having bright lights turned on in your bedroom soon before bed can cause you trouble when trying to go to sleep. Staring at laptop, tablet or mobile screen can cause the same effect. Even when you are in complete darkness in your bedroom you can still find it difficult to fall asleep if it is too soon after either of the above. The fact is even five minutes of any of the above activities before bed can shut off your melatonin (control’s the quality of your sleep) production for up to four hours. The trick is to dim the lights and read a book before bed, that way you are entertained, and you are already in bed ready to nod off.
This article was originally published on JoeyT.net