3 Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Posted on 11th April 2020 at 14:45
Well it’s obvious and more than likely, our sleep may not be great at this time. It’s totally understandable why.
We know sleep plays a huge role in many aspects of our lives, from overall health, to day to day choices we make. We need to make sure we sleep as well as we can.
I’m no expert on sleep. However I believe its important to cover the basics of a good night sleep, in any capacity. We should all respect and value the efforts put into creating a better nights sleep.
I get it though, you’ve tried a lot of different things to help you sleep, window open, less covers, vitamins and whatever else and nothing worked. Perhaps you were neglecting the very things we all tend to not do and probably should more often.
Number 1 may cause a little friction for those reading it.
1 thing that we track down at the gym is caffeine intake, how much you’re having, how often, when & why.
Limiting the amount of caffeine you drink through the day can & will help play a huge role in the overall improvement of your sleep. If you are heavily reliant on caffeine, there’s obviously something going on internally that needs addressing. All you’re doing is ‘masking fatigue’, and quite frankly, this is defeating the objective of pursuing overall good health & increased energy. We should be aiming to achieve this naturally.
I understand, sometimes there will be habitual reasons why you consume as much as you do, these are the first ones I’d look at addressing. Every time you have a coffee in your first week of taking note, write it down, on a pad, in your phone, take a picture. Address what is habitual & what is ‘needed’.
When you’re ready, I want you to start to take 1 or 2 of these out of your routine. Replace them with water, a snack, some chewing gum, some polo mints. Remember they’re a habit & will need replacing otherwise theres no ‘reward system’ involved anymore, this could lead to you regressing back into consumption.
Write a journal about your energy, has it improved? Do you miss the coffee?
Once you feel you’re on top of the amount you’re consuming through the day, I want you to start being aware of when you choose to consume it. I get ‘the morning one’ is the vice & this can be for many reasons. However do realise we sometimes can make that one just as much a habit as the one at 10am.
We wake up – we’re still a little tired – we drink caffeine & we then associate drinking coffee with feeling ‘awake’ again. Yes, it has its benefits. However, you’d be shocked after a couple of times of not drinking it how much you didn’t really need that coffee. We latch on to rewards & the reward here is feeling ‘awake’ again. I ain’t going to take away your morning coffee btw. Just make you aware.
This also applies to how late you’re consuming it. I do have clients that drink it in the evening before bed & they say it doesn’t affect how they sleep, directly. That’s correct in some ways however 9 x out of 10, their sleep quality won’t be anywhere near as good as it would without it. They won’t be experiencing the deep stages of sleep anywhere nears as much as they would if they started to consume it earlier in the day.
Give this a try:
If your last coffee is usually around 9pm. I want you to spend a week taking an hour off that time each day for 7 days. So you end up having your last 1 at 2pm, 1 week from when you start. This I feel is an optimal time to start limiting caffeine exposure to improve sleep quality!
How about frequency through the day? Are you having a lot, within a short space of time? Or spreading them out? I find spreading the 2 I have out over the day is a great way of keeping my energy levels somewhat balanced through the day. I don’t want for you or myself any ‘drop off’ points as this will cause us to ‘crash’ & need another ‘pick me up’. Is this resonating with you so far?
It is important for you to remember that just because it is called decaffeinated coffee, doesn’t mean that there is absolutely no caffeine in it whatsoever. While the process they use to make the coffee does wipe away most of the caffeine, some always remain.
The amount of caffeine will vary from coffee to coffee. However, you can pretty much bet that the amount of caffeine in your decaf coffee will be somewhere between 0-7 mg per cup. To put that into perspective, the average cup of regular coffee contains somewhere between 70-140 mg of caffeine per cup. As you can see, almost all the caffeine is removed.
Routines & Rituals
Who likes to read? Reading a book can most definitely help towards engaging you in a relaxing mood. I know if I read, it can easily send me off into a relaxed state. Rather than you thinking about here there & everywhere, you can be engrossed in a book! Relaxing you from ‘ever day life’. Studies show it takes around 6 minutes for our stress levels to reduce when reading a book.
Walking / Steps
Look, number 1 priority for any member is to walk & move where possible. Whether you’ve been with me for 2 years or 2 months, you’ll know how important this is. It’s proven, evening steps before bed could just do the trick when it comes to winding down before bed. This doesn’t mean a 60 mile schlep. It could mean a quick walk around your garden, out in the fields (if its light), you’ve also increased step count whilst also promoting better sleep. If you’re kids are in bed & you can’t leave them then this obviously isn’t going to work.
We do have to be careful here that this doesn’t promote our heads to go into over drive & think about stuff. We’re not wanting to ‘educate’ before bed. We are wanting to relax & unwind. The podcast could be something that promotes stress relief, that helps guide you through relaxing. Podcasts cover a vast array of things now a days. My favourite before bed could be a motivational podcast!
Aka the work of the gods. My favourite thing before bed is to implement breathing techniques & habits to end the day. Your partner may think this is weird so you may have to go to the spare room or bathroom to do it. Or get them involved. Practicing breathing can help on many levels, from stress management to anxiety management. Now you’re actively aware, how often do we take shallow breaths on a daily basis without fully exploring the ability of our lunges?
Give this a go:
Lay yourself down or be seated
Keep your eyes open, soften your thoughts
Take a deep breath in via the nose, right from the belly! Allow for 4/5 seconds of inhaling.
Exhale the breath via the mouth, slowly
Repeat 3 x
On the 3rd out breath. Start to slowly close your eyes
Repeat x 10
Start of small. Increase breath amounts & frequency as you build this up.
By the time you know it you’ll be practicing for 3 minutes!
Look I don’t enough about meditation to give you facts, studies etc. What I do know is when I do this. It really f****** helps.
I use a guided meditation app called ‘Headspace’ free download on The app store or whatever you use.
Free to use. Don’t have to create paid accounts etc.
Start it & let it take over. You don’t have to be an expert on mediation. Just the ‘want’ to do it.
Write a journal. I love writing how my days gone, the good & the bad. If our minds are left to deal with that internally, we have too much to think about, sound familiar? Get it out on paper, it does sound cliché but trust me, it works. It’s also a great tool for us to reflect on the day as a whole, what worked well, what didn’t, what do you want to do more of?
Remember, rituals can’t & won’t happen over night. You have to have the want & desire to build these into your routine. They will take time & you have to find the time to do them.
Minimising external stressors
Who here takes their work to bed? Phone, laptop, basically any mobile device. The blue light they transmit causes the body to produce less melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep/wake process & also boosts the alpha wavelengths which create ‘alertness’.
I use ‘gaming glasses’ prescribed by my coach to help block the light, however alternatively, turn them off & limit the time you spend on them in bed. Sounds fair right?
I won’t bore you with the facts. Just trust me on this one.
My bedroom is at the top of the house and it’s noisy & s*** in the winter. Wind, rain, sleet, hailstones. I had to resort to ear plugs to block out the sound as it was unbearable. I physically had the worst nights sleep before I got the plugs. Once I implemented them it transformed the entire night sleep.
Black out the light
Light is a stressor. If theres even 1mm of light coming through your window, you’re screwed. I get it it may not be possible to ‘totally deflect’ all light out of the bedroom, however you should look to try & improve. It could be an eye mask, it could be black out blinds or curtains. Don’t allow these little things to add to the sleep deficiency.
Food & digestion
If you consume a ‘heavy’ meal before bed, your body will concentrate more on the digestion of the food rather than letting you relax & sleep! However, eating a light carb dense meal before bed is proven to help aid sleep.
Bananas are a great carb source to consume before bed. Not entirely sure why, but give it a try, can’t do any harm?
Plus more carbs, win win!
Again, I’m not a registered doctor or physician & these recommendations are purely from experience.
Melatonin – a great product to help in the aid of sleep. Melatonin is the key ingredient for the sleep/wake cycle. If not producing enough of this, our bodies can go into despair!
Ashwagandha – To sum up a few benefits of using this product. Reduction in inflammation. Increase in muscle mass & strength. Can help promote testosterone production. May reduce symptoms of depression . Could help reduce levels of stress & anxiety.
The idea behind these approaches are to at least create some positive outcome in any capacity. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to go away and implement all at once, just a little here and there. Track whether you’ve seen any improvements and if you haven’t, try a few other different things.
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