Sleep plays a huge role in our health. Unfortunately, in today's world it is difficult to get the optimal amount of sleep each night that our body requires. Between school, work, family obligations, and personal commitments, we are left with a small window to get some solid shut eye. If you're one of the lucky few who can swing the recommended 8 hours each night that is fantastic, but for a lot of us we are happy just squeezing in 6 hours. I even have a client who's schedule only allows 4 hours.
Regardless of how much sleep you can manage, I have good news for you! And that is that you can improve your quality of sleep whether you're an 8 hour, 6 hour, or 4 hour sleeper. We need both quantity and quality when it comes to sleep and I would place the quality over quantity here for sure! Below we have compiled 10 proven ways to improve your sleep quality that have all been backed by science. Check them out!
1. Avoid screens before bedtime
- Cutting out screen time before sleep is probably the easiest thing you can do to improve the quality of your sleep immediately.
- Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that the use of light emitting electronic devices in the hours before bedtime can adversely impact overall health, alertness, and the circadian clock that synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep.
- Turn off screens at least an hour before bedtime.
- Use a blue light blocker on cell phones and other devices.
2. Have a caffeine curfew
- Studies have shown that consuming coffee 6 hours before bedtime has a measurable objective loss of 1 hour of sleep.
- Caffeine has a half-life of up to 5-8 hours.
- Set a caffeine curfew of at least 6 hours before bedtime.
3. Be cool
- The optimal sleep temperature is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Thermoregulation heavily influences your body’s sleep cycles.
- When it's time for sleep, there is a drop in your core body temperature to help initiate sleep.
4. Create a sleep sanctuary
- Humans are creatures of habit and habitat. The bedroom should be for sleep.
- When you step into your bedroom, parts of your brain might light up expecting to do whatever it is that you do in your bedroom.
- The environment you create in your bedroom and the things you do there can have a significant impact on the quality of sleep you get.
5. Get it blacked out
- It is a well-established fact that we sleep better in a dark environment.
- Harvard Medical School found that exposure to light at night throws the body’s biological clock out of whack.
- Get some black out curtains.
- Remove or cover all light in your bedroom.
6. Keep devices out of the bedroom
- Loughborough University Sleep Research Centre tested the impact cell phones have on the human brain. In the study, they strapped a cell phone to participants’ heads and monitored their brain waves. When the test subjects were allowed to go to sleep, they ended up remaining awake twice as long after the phone was turned off.
- It is recommended to remove any electronic devices from your bedroom. Cell phones, computers, laptops, iPads, Kindles, tablets, and more.
7. Be early to rise
- According to psychiatrist and psychotherapist Tracey Marks, MD “Going to sleep early and waking early syncs the body’s clock with the earth’s natural circadian rhythms, which is more restorative than trying to sleep while the sun is up.”
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
- Go to bed within 30 minutes of the same time each night.
- Wake at the same time each morning.
8. Get to bed at the right time
- Renowned neurologist Kulreet Chaudhary, MD, says “Timing your sleep is like timing an investment in the stock market - it doesn’t matter how much you invest, it matters when you invest."
- It's been shown that human beings get the most beneficial hormonal secretions and recovery by sleeping during the hours of 10pm to 2am. This can be considered “the money time”.
9. Get more sunlight during the day
- Too little light exposure during the day and too much artificial light exposure during the evening will negatively impact your sleep.
- Sunlight helps regulate serotonin, melatonin and cortisol levels.
- Get direct sunlight. Not sunlight through the filter of a window.
- All sunlight is not created equal. The best sun time is during the hours of 6am-8am.
10. Train hard but smart
- Morning workouts are ideal if you want to get the best sleep at night.
- Appalachian State University researchers tracked the sleep patterns of participants who worked out at 7am, 1pm, and 7pm.
- They found that the morning exercisers had up to 75% more time in the reparative “deep sleep” stage at night.
Make getting quality sleep a priority. I challenge you to implement at least one of these tips this week. Don't sleep on sleep, it can improve your health tremendously! If you'd like more information on improving your sleep quality or interested in a training program, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!