We all know how important sleep is but how can you make the most of your time with your eyes closed?
Lets not waste any time and get straight into some practical tips which will have you sleeping like a baby and increase your productivity in your woken hours.
TIP #1 – HAVE A CAFFEINE CUT OFF TIME
Caffeine is a stimulant to the sympathetic nervous system. It acts to increase our concentration by increasing adrenalin and cortisol levels within the blood stream. This can be beneficial when needed.
However caffeine does have a 6-8 hour half life. That means if you consume 200mg of caffeine (typical cup of coffee) at 2pm then 100 mg will still be in your blood stream and 10pm. Studies have shown that this can cause disruptions in falling asleep and also disturb natural sleep cycles.
Our recommendation would be to keep your caffeine intake to earlier on in the day to avoid the side effects on sleep.
Remember that a cup of coffee or tea also contains some powerful antioxidants which are beneficial for our bodies so don’t feel like you have to go cold turkey.
Being mindful on what time you have your caffeine will help you enjoy the beneficial effects without worrying about the potential for sleep disturbance.
TIP #2 – SLEEP IN A BLACKED OUT ROOM
I am assuming that most people sleep with the light off but you would be surprised how many people sleep with the TV on. Any light in the bedroom at night is something you should be avoiding whether that be light entering through the curtains, LED lights from electronic hardware or lights from your phone.
It has only been around 100 years since we have been able to manipulate light and although this is a gift in itself it may be a good idea to make some simple changes to decrease your exposure to light when you sleep.
We know that there are light receptors in our eyes which receive light and tell our body we should be awake, hence the reason we get tired when we are in dark places. For quality sleep we really need to avoid stimulating these receptors. We recommend that black out curtains are used to cut out any light from the outside and that all electronic hardware which has LED lighting is switched off at the mains prior to bed. If this is not possible then the use of an eye mask can help to manage your light exposure.
TIP #3 -EAT CARBOHYDRATES AT NIGHT
Despite what you may hear carbs, fats or proteins are never the enemies. There is a lot of misguided information out there and it creates an element of fear around our eating habits.
No carbs after 2pm? 6pm?
I’m sure you have all heard this before. Unfortunately these broad statements have no grounding or scientific basis. However, It is of course sensible to tailor your food intake around your energy needs as the fate of excess carbohydrate intake is fat storage.
Carbohydrate intake in the evening will help your body to release serotonin . This hormone is involved in helping you to get a better nights sleep. Carbohydrates stimulate your pancreas to release insulin, which aids in tryptophan entering your brain. This then triggers your brain to make serotonin, which help you to feel more relaxed and sleepier.
We recommend you keep the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to the afternoon, evenings and around training periods. Restricting morning intake of carbohydrates may help to promote fat loss and aid in blood sugar regulation throughout the day which will help you feel more alert and productive. Combine that with a good nights sleep with some evening carbohydrates and you should be onto a winner!
TIP #4 – DO YOUR INTENSE EXERCISE EARLIER ON IN THE DAY
Exercise is fantastic and has a million and one benefits and if you can only fit exercise in the late evening then I propose that you do just that.
However during exercise Cortisol is released which is beneficial to aid your body in performance and adaption to the exercise bout. Intense bouts of exercise will correlate to higher levels of cortisol release. If you are training hard in the morning, afternoon or early evening then this cortisol increase will have no effect on your sleep.
Training hard late in the evenings may have have a negative effect on your sleep as cortisol is a hormone which when elevated increases alertness.
If you are training late in the evening choose some exercise which is slightly less intense but still will give the benefit you desire (yoga, Pilates, swim)
TIP #5 – DITCH THE TV, PICK UP A BOOK
Its all an all too familiar scenario where we switch the TV off, head to the bathroom to brush our teeth then head straight to bed. Chances are a lot of people may be watching TV in bed and may even fall asleep with the TV on.
This is obviously not the best way to ensure a solid nights sleep. Confused about the reason, remember what was discussed in TIP #2
We would recommend reading a fiction book to help you relax and also to stimulate creativity centers in the brain. These same centers are fully active as you sleep. Have you ever had a dream so vivid and real that you thought it was real life? Have you ever woken up with a brilliant idea? Your brain is a wonderful place and stimulating it regularly by reading will not only help you to be more creative, it will help you relax in the evening and ultimately assist in creating an environment perfect for you to have a flawless nights sleep.
Why not try some of them out and let us know how it goes? Sleep is one thing we can not do without and making the most of it will really help you to make the most of your life!