I wrote an article not long ago about the importance of maintaining your health and fitness routine during lockdown. One of the key points I discussed was sleeping habits. People were going to bed later, getting up later. And with this lockdown looking being extended once more, I thought I would dive into a bit more detail with regards to improving your sleep, and using certain strategies to facilitate this.
So here are my top 5 strategies for someone to improve their sleep…
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and other chemicals that interfere with sleep
As any coffee lover knows, caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake. So avoid caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and some pain relievers) for four to six hours before bedtime. Similarly, smokers should refrain from using tobacco products too close to bedtime.
Although alcohol may help bring on sleep, after a few hours it acts as a stimulant, increasing the number of awakenings and generally decreasing the quality of sleep later in the night.
Turn your bedroom into a sleep-inducing environment
A quiet, dark, and cool environment can help promote sound slumber. Why do you think bats congregate in caves for their daytime sleep? To achieve such an environment, lower the volume of outside noise with earplugs if necessary. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block light, as it is a powerful cue that tells the brain that it's time to wake up. Keep the temperature comfortably cool and the room well ventilated. And make sure your bedroom is equipped with a comfortable mattress and pillows. (Remember that most mattresses wear out after ten years.)
Keeping computers, TVs, and work materials out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.
Go to sleep when you’re truly tired
Struggling to fall asleep just leads to frustration. If you’re not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something relaxing, like reading or drawing until you are tired enough to sleep.
Use light to your advantage
Natural light keeps your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle. So let in the light first thing in the morning and get out of the office for a sun break during the day. And try giving your peepers a break from sunglasses occasionally. Let them be exposed to sunlight during the day.
Keep your internal clock set with a consistent sleep schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s "internal clock" to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover. Waking up at the same time each day is the very best way to set your clock, and even if you did not sleep well the night before, the extra sleep drive will help you consolidate sleep the following night.
So if your current sleep pattern is broken or disturbed, try giving these tips a go. Remember, good quality sleep is an essential part of your health and fitness journey and is often overlooked, or is an after thought with there always so much emphasis placed on diet and exercise. Sleep IS CRUCIAL for fat loss, muscle gain or just overall well being!