When was the last time you woke up, fully rested, after a FABULOUS night’s sleep? If you can’t remember, look no further!
Sleeping, eating and shelter are our essential needs that we must satisfy in order to be functional human beings. And while it’s true that diabetes, obesity, depression and stress can have huge negative effects on our sleep patterns, sometimes our most simple habits and routines are making things worse and reducing our ability to get some decent shut eye!
Want to become a sleeping rock star? Here are my my favourite habits for successful sleep.
A good book is one of the best companions a human could ask for: it takes you places, it stimulates your imagination and yes, it can doze you off in no time.
Avoid being exposed to blue light around bedtime: no TV, no laptop, no phone before bed! Science proves that our circadian rhythm – the physiological process that regulates the sleep-awake cycle – is influenced by external factors. Blue light and nightlight which suppress melatonin production are the major protagonists (Gooley et al., 2011).
2. Keep a Journal
If you had a long day, full of exciting events or future anxieties, write it all down! Fantasising and overthinking is a major 21st century source of energy depletion. Instead, keeping a journal – or more specifically a worry journal – will help you fall asleep quicker. Science says that writing a To-Do list for the following day will help you get those out of your mind and get some peaceful sleep (Scullin et al., 2018)
3. Skip Happy Hour
Alcohol might seem to help you relax more and release the tensions of the day, but in fact drinking alcohol can heavily disrupt our sleep patterns (Ebrahim et al., 2013).
If you want to draw a clear line between your stressful day and your peaceful state of mind at home, why not try a different activity, like meditation or a long walk after work?
4. Be Cool!
Ever spent a night writhing in bed during the hot summer? Maybe not in the UK! But hot temperatures are never good when it comes to bedtime, and it doesn’t need to be 40 degrees to feel discomfort! Evidence suggests being in a hot room can impair the quality of your sleep (Lack et al., 2018) much more than in a noisy one. So make sure you’ll set the temperature around 20 degrees.
If you want to create the perfect environment for a good night of sleep, minimise light sources, low frequency noises and clutter.
5. Be Norwegian!
Norwegians typically eat dinner between 4 and 5 pm and while you might be still in the office at that time I try my best to follow this northern example. Since our body spends around two thirds of it's energy digesting food it's easy to understand what the scientists confirm.
Late-night dinners affect our glycaemic index, our growth hormones, our production of melatonin, and hence our sleep-wake cycles (Jalilolghadr et al., 2011).
Aerobic exercise has been proven to improve the quality of our sleep (Reid et al., 2010) and secure a good nights kip even for the most frantic mind. Our bodies are designed for being active and occupied in physical effort however modern technology and our sedentary lifestyles make it harder than ever to be active.
So, if you want to make sure you’re not staring at the ceiling in bed, go for a run and sweat out your stress out! Don’t exercise too late though, else your high adrenaline levels make falling asleep difficult.
And if you’d like to learn more about the perils of sedentary life, read my article [HERE]!
7. Have a Ritual
Developing your own pre-bedtime ritual can help get your mind into the right zone and send the clear message “it’s bed time” which science says helps contribute to better sleep (Friedrich and Schlarb, 2018).
Explore different options: meditate, take a long warm bath or shower, read a chapter of your favourite book or a poem, fold your laundry… everything works! Once you find your perfect bed time ritual, make sure to fit it into your routine.
Ready to hit the sack? Now you have 7 amazing ways to make it more successful!