Many of us have trouble sleeping. We have poor sleeping habits. However, along with exercising and eating healthy, sleep is part of a trinity of physical lifestyle activities that will lead us all to becoming much happier people. We know this and yet still avoid it. Here are some steps that can help improve your sleep habits as outlined by Adriaan Louw (sleep guru):
1) The Bedroom Should be for 2 Things Only
I’m sure most of us can guess what those two things are… Get everything else out. Many people keep TVs in their rooms and/or take tablets, phones, and laptops into their rooms right before bed. The simple science is light keeps us awake and electronics visually stimulate our brains, not allowing us to relax. You will see that this is very important as you continue to read further down the list.
2) Keep Your Bedroom Dark and Cool
Invest in some nice and heavy black out blinds. Make the room a bit cooler at night with air conditioning. No lights or electronics should be showing at night, (even alarm clocks with bright displays). The amount of light your body is exposed to can effect cortisol and melatonin levels, two hormones vital for sleep and alertness. Bonus points if you can expose yourself to some early morning sun to get the cortisol levels going.
3) Set the Same Sleep Time Every Night
It is best to try and shoot for going to sleep closer to when the sun goes down and waking when the sun rises. It has been shown to also be beneficial for cortisone/melatonin cycles. This is nearly impossible for most people, but not to worry. Adriaan Louw recommends simply trying to get to bed before midnight, as studies have shown that sleep before 12am is very beneficial for maintaining a solid sleep cycle at night. A steady bed time and rise time will help regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
4) Slowly Calm Down Before Bed
The idea is to slow down a bit before it’s time to sleep. This means several hours before bed to stop using electronics. Dim the lights some or even try to use candles. Do things that help you relax, potentially try meditation.
5) Sleep 7-9 hours per night
Getting enough sleep has a myriad of benefits including improving efficiency and productivity. The amount of sleep needed probably differs from person to person, but I doubt some people operate best on just 4 hours. Athletes or very active people may want try to and shoot for at least 8 to 9 hours. Sleep can be trained. Get in bed at the same time each night. Stay in bed until your chosen wake time regardless of whether or not you’re actually asleep. Eventually you’ll be sleeping the prescribed times.
6) Keep a Notebook by the Bed
I found this to be a very interesting idea and point. I have done this a few times without fully realizing its potential great benefit. Many people have difficulty sleeping because they can’t control their thoughts at night, Write them down (such as a to do list, or a list of stressful thoughts) and make an effort to complete them and/or address them the next day.
7) Snorer (or Disruptive Sleeper) Leaves the Room
Having a sleeper next to you who can’t stop snoring (or tossing and turning) does not help sleeping at all. Adriaan’s recommendation was to have the snorer leave the room and sleep elsewhere.
8) Taper Water Before Bed
For obvious reasons. Peeing 7 times per night because you drank a gallon of water before bed time isn’t good. Unless you are pregnant, then you pee 7 times a night for no reason.
9) Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol can help relax your body and prepare your body for rest. However, too much alcohol can disrupt sleep as your body is processing the alcohol.
10) Take Naps of 20 Minute or Less (Stay in Phase 1)
This can be difficult for many people, but it is something that should be tried. Our sleep occurs in cycles. We slip into deeper sleep cycles as we sleep for longer durations. When we first fall asleep this stage is closest to our normal brain activities and as we continue to sleep the brain activity changes. This is why you may feel groggy after a several hour nap but feel ready to go after a shorter nap. Keep your naps between 10-20 minutes to minimize this effect. Use them to quickly recharge the brain and check out for a moment. Also keep in mind that if you take long naps during the day you may disrupt your sleep cycle at night. Again, you may have to find what works best for you.
*Much of the information in this article can be found on Dan Pope’s website: FitnessPainFree.com. Please visit his website for more interesting content.