Sleep is powerful.
There’s no getting around this.
It’s essential for every single living organism on this earth yet us humans seem to be the only ones that see sleep as negotiable.
Our lives don’t always lend to getting enough sleep.
A lot of the enjoyable things in life do happen past 10PM, there’s work pressures, young children along with many other things that keep us up longer than we should.
I truly believe in the power of quantity, irrespective of whether we feel fine on less than 7 hours of sleep, I truly believe we should all strive for at least 7-9 hours.
However, sometimes this isn’t always practical and even if we are getting those 7-9 hours, if the quality is poor, we may be missing out on many of the benefits of those 7-9 hours.
Today, I want to go through how we can make the most of the time we do spend on the mattress to ensure we’re getting the benefits of a quality night of sleep.
1. Eliminate all of the light in your bedroom
I know a lot of you reading like to sleep with a lamp on, like having the sun come through the curtains in the morning and as much as I appreciate this, the quality of your sleep is going to be a lot better if you can get used to sleeping in total darkness.
Especially if the light you’re currently using is artificial.
If you’re adamant that you want the natural daylight coming through in the morning, be mindful of the time the sun is rising and how many hours you’re asleep at this point.
An absolute must is to get rid of those artificial lights, unplug your TV’s, WiFi Montor’s, cover your A/C light if there’s one in your room.
As a rule of thumb, the darker the better.
2. Eliminate all of the noise in your bedroom.
The only noise I believe is acceptable when sleeping is white noise and the natural noises coming from nature.
Street noise, TV’s, children, housemates etc in other rooms should be minimised as much as possible.
Your brain tends to pick up the noises around you and if there’s plenty of unnatural sounds throughout the night, it’s likely to impact the quality of your rest.
Rule of thumb, keep your bedroom as quiet as possible, use white noise if/when needed.
3. Keep your bedroom cool.
Our body’s temperature changes throughout the night.
Know the feeling of putting a leg or arm out from under the sheets, that’s your body ‘heat-dumping’ to regain an ideal temperature to sleep.
Staying on the cooler side will ensure a quality night of sleep and avoid the body needing to take any different measures to cool you down.
15-17 degrees celsius tends to be most optimal.
If you’re concerned about getting up when it’s cold in the morning, try setting the heating to come on when you’re going to wake up, wearing socks is also another option that may help!
4. Avoid screen use up to 60 minutes before you go to sleep.
I appreciate that this one might not be as easy and you may need to be a little bit more incremental with reducing your device usage.
If 60 minutes is too much initially, start with 10 and keep building up until you eventually reach 60 minutes minimum.
Your eyes, brain and mind will appreciate the down time and when you do get to bed, you’ll have a lot more success when drifting off.
Pro tip: if you want to change the game, keep your phone outside of your bedroom.
5. Create an evening wind down routine.
Once you implement the screen-free 60 minutes, create an evening wind down routine to fill the time effectively.
Try some non-stimulating, technology-free activities and specifically avoid anything that’s going to trigger you.
Try reading a fiction book, take a long shower or bath, spend some quality time with your partner, create a beauty routine.
Meditation and journaling are my go-to’s.
Whatever you do, keep away from your devices, try to do something that helps you unwind and when the evening time comes around, you’ll know exactly what to do.
6. Ensure your bedroom and your sheets are fresh and clean.
We all know the feeling of getting into bed when our rooms are tidy and we have fresh sheets.
It’s such a great feeling and I don’t think anyone would disagree with this.
There’s no reason why we can’t have that feeling regularly and it’s going to help so much with the quality of our sleep.
Think about it, how do you feel when you enter a messy room?
What are you thinking when you see that giant pile of laundry in the corner?
Case closed - try and keep your sleeping environment as clean and fresh as possible.
7. Utilise dim lighting and candles in the evening.
To help our bodies get to sleep, certain hormones and neurotransmitters are released in the latter stages of the day.
One of the most spoken about is melatonin and one major disruptor to our natural melatonin production is… Duh duh duh, blue lights.
The lights that come from our phones, laptops, tv’s, those super bright bathroom bulbs we have.
Minimise and remove them at all costs.
If you need some light in the evening, try using lights that emit a more orangey/red colour as these seem to be far less harmful to your melatonin and therefore the quality of your sleep.
8. Have a consistent sleep and wake time.
Our circadian rhythm matters, it’s your body's internal process that helps and regulates a healthy sleep cycle.
A well functioning circadian rhythm is going to be essential to good quality sleep and so that our body produces those neurotransmitters and hormones at the right time.
Having a consistent sleep and wake time is going to be one of the best ways that you can promote a well functioning rhythm.
I appreciate a lot of us are going to be staying up a little bit later on Friday night. Saturday night, potentially, but do your best to try and stay within a bit of a window.
I personally recommend not sleeping or waking too much later that 90 mins compared to your regular sleep time and waking up time.
9. Avoid having caffeine after 1PM.
Caffeine has a half life and a quarter life.
Meaning half/quarter the amount of caffeine is still floating around in your system hours later.
The half life of caffeine is around 5-6 hours.
The quarter life of caffeine is 10-12 hours.
So 10-12 hours after your last caffeinated beverage, a quarter of this is still in your system.
Imagine that beautiful cup of coffee you’re having earlier in the day.
Let’s say you had a quarter of that left, would you finish it off as you’re about to turn the lights off and go to sleep?
Absolutely not, consider that if you’re having caffeinated beverages late into the day, that’s what you’re essentially doing.
10. Try exercising earlier in the day,
When we exercise, we want to be energetic, amped up, we’re going to be moving around, we want blood pumping to our muscles.
Naturally our sympathetic nervous system will kick in to help facilitate this.
This state is not conducive to resting and sleeping.
And if we’re getting into this state just a couple of hours before bed, it’s likely having an adverse impact on our sleep.
If you can, try and train a little earlier in the day.
If you don’t have the option to do this, place more emphasis on bringing your state back into a restful and calm place.
In comes that evening routine, breathwork, stretching, avoiding further stimulation.
Do as much as you can to bring your body back into a state that’s conducive to resting and sleeping.
The impact of quality sleep can’t be underestimated.
Implement as many of these as you can tonight and wake up tomorrow feeling refreshed and well-rested.