A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. It is one of the most important recovery tools we have and often the cheapest.
Research shows that poor sleep has negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function.
To improve your mental and physical health try a few of the below:
Limit your caffeine consumption before bedtime
Europe consumes 34% of all the worlds coffee, Spain being number 23 in the world for top consumers.
Caffeine has many benefits. A single dose of caffeine is great for increasing energy, mental alertness, and workout performance. However, caffeine provides all the things you need to avoid when trying to get a good night’s sleep. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may stop the body from relaxing at night.
Caffeine can stay in your body for 6 to 8 hours. It is recommended to not consume any caffeine after 16.00. If you consume a coffee at 16.00, by midnight you may still have caffeine in your system decreasing your ability to sleep.
Reduce artificial light exposure before bed
In History before we became modernised with electricity, light globes, and TV’s when the sun set it meant that everything would go dark. This would naturally signal our bodies to increase melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in our brain at night that regulates the sleep/wake cycle which is called the circadian rhythm. In the past this meant when the sunset we started to produce melatonin which made us feel tired and ready to sleep. Nowadays due to all the artificial light we are exposed to from our TV’s, cell phones, computers we are messing up our circadian rhythms.
For at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before, abstain from the use of any technology and artificial light source to improve your nights quality of sleep.
Set a bedtime and STICK TO IT
One of the simplest ways for us to fall asleep quicker is to fall asleep at the same time each night. One of the most simple but hardest things to do due to our modern lives. The circadian rhythm is exactly that, a rhythm. So, by being consistent the body will start to produce the melatonin the same time each night, which makes it easier for us to fall asleep.
Plan your week ahead with a dedicated bedtime each night. Set an alarm for when it’s time to go to bed Try logging off social media once you leave work. Don’t log back in until the next day. This will help you remove that burning desire for a quick scroll.
Reduce daytime/long naps
Short naps have been shown to be beneficial for brain function and production, but long or irregular napping can have a negative effect on your night’s sleep.
Sleeping during the day affects the circadian rhythm, meaning that when it comes to night-time your internal clock will be confused.
Limit yourself to nothing longer than 30 minutes or late in the day.
Clear your mind
Relaxation techniques before bed can help you take the edge off. These have been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia. Techniques such as massage, listening got music, reading, meditating and stretching to help relax the mind and make it easier to fall asleep. Try find a technique that works for you.
Workout (but not too late)
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve sleep quality with many other benefits associated to it. The more vigorously you exercise, the more powerful the sleep benefits. But even light exercise, such as walking for just 10 minutes a day, improves sleep quality.
Those that exercise regularly has been shown to halve the amount of time taken to fall asleep compared to those who don’t and ended up sleeping on average 40 minutes more daily.
Exercising late in the evening may cause increased alertness and hormone release such as adrenaline which are counterproductive for sleep and reducing nervous system activation.
Be aware what you eat at night
Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening. Avoid foods that are heavy, rich, spicy, or acidic. These can cause stomach issues and heartburn. Cut back on the sugar and refined carbs such as pasta, rice, and bread. You may also want to reconsider that nightcap. While it may help you relax it can interfere with your deep sleep cycle.