Influenced by a book that I have recently enjoyed, “Why We Sleep, Unlocking The Power Of Sleep And Dreams” by Matthew Walker, I wanted to share a few tips to help improve everybody’s quality of sleep.
Perhaps you already know this, but regularity is probably the most important thing. You’ll need to stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time each day, and yes, that includes weekends too!
Most of us set an alarm to get up in the morning, but when was the last time you set one to go to sleep? You’ll need to set an alarm for your bedtime!
Keep it regular, and your circadian rhythm (your body’s inner clock), will thank you.
2. Keep it dark
In the last hour before bed, try to stay away from screens, but also try switching off at least half the lights in the house. You’d be surprised by how soporific that is, it really starts to make you feel a bit more drowsy.
In addition, daylight is also key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Getting outside in natural sunlight or using very bright lights in the morning is highly recommended by sleep experts. But always make sure to turn down the lights before bedtime.
3. Keep it cool
Your brain actually needs to drop its temperature by about 1–2 degrees Celcius to initiate sleep, and that is the reason that you will always find it easier to fall asleep in a room that is too cold than too hot.
Sleeping semi-naked or having a hot bath before bed, can help bring down your core body temperature and also seems to give you a little bit more deep NREM sleep, that sort of restorative sleep for the body.
When you get into a hot bath, you get vasodilation, and all of the blood rushes to the surface. And as soon as you get out of the bath, you begin to have this massive thermal dump of heat that just evacuates from the body, your core body temperature plummets and that is why you can sleep better.
4. Avoid Afternoon Caffeine
A chemical called adenosine at this very moment is building up in your brain. The longer you stay awake, the more adenosine will build up and accumulate in your brain which is responsible for sleep pressure or your desire to sleep.
This sleep pressure effect can, however, be artificially muted by consuming caffeine. Caffeine works by successfully battling adenosine and blocks the sleepiness signal normally communicated to the brain by adenosine.
While this may seem like a great hack to keep us productive throughout the day, it is important to note, however, that the half-life of caffeine is about 5–7 hours. In other words, if you have a cup of coffee at 5 pm, you’d expect to still have half of the caffeine active and circulating in your brain by midnight.
As a result, sleep will not come easily and be smooth throughout the night as your brain continues to battle the opposing force of caffeine and for that reason, it is highly recommended to avoid caffeine later in the afternoon.
5. Avoid large meals, beverages and alcohol before bed
Light snacks before bed are acceptable, but a large meal can cause indigestion which may interfere with sleep. Drinking too many fluids at night can also cause frequent awakenings to urinate.
In addition, it is generally recommended to avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. Having a nightcap or alcoholic beverage before sleep may help you relax, but heavy use robs you of REM sleep, keeping you in the lighter stages of sleep. You also tend to wake up in the middle of the night when the effects of alcohol have worn off.
Okay, it’s getting late on my end, happy snoozing!