How to get better sleep. Getting a good night sleep is the single most important thing you can do for your health. Lack of sleep is linked to an increase in almost every major disease. If you skip on sleep you will see a shorter life and your quality of life will suffer from lack of sleep.
Poor sleep leads to weight gain and poor fitness in general. Getting poor sleep doesn’t cause the weight gain directly but it does play a role in willpower and hormones that regulate hunger. Lack of sleep also makes us feel drained which causes us to skip workouts. Good sleep is one of the most important factors for recovery from the hard work out. If you skimp on sleep it will take longer for your body to recover.
When I first see a client, I ask them how they’re sleeping and if they’re having trouble I recommend trying to solve that problem first because of how much it impacts everything else. I explain to them that getting poor sleep will derail their fitness program and having a personal trainer will be much less effective.
After I tell my clients they need to work on their sleep they always ask the question. How do I get a better night sleep? I’m not a sleep expert but I have read a few books on the subject and have seen results with these tips. If you have a medical condition that prevents sleep talk your doctor about improving your sleep.
Most doctors recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep every night. The easiest way to find out how much sleep your body needs to take a vacation and skip the alarm for two weeks. Track how long your body sleeps with nothing to wake it up.
Here are my tips on how to get better sleep.
Most of us need a pick me up to get going in the morning and sometimes we need a little more later in the day. If you have caffeine to close to bed it can cause all sorts of issues. A good rule for caffeine intake is to stop 8 hours before you go to bed. I know 8 hours is a lot but caffeine stays in the body for a while. Caffeine causes our stress hormone to raise up and this keeps our mind racing at night. We’ve all been there up all night stressing over every little thing in our lives. We compound that problem with something that makes it worse. If feel tired caffeine may help in the short term but if it gets in the way of sleep you’re just creating a cycle that makes you more tired.
Limit Screen Time
Limiting how much time you spend on computers, tablets and phones before bed is important if you want to get a good night sleep. When we have light hitting us in the face at night our brains still think that it is daytime and we have trouble rapidly switching to sleep mode. Modern screens put off a blue light wave which is the worst light wave for getting your brain to go to sleep.
Some scientists say that we evolved to be most sensitive to blue light because we came from the ocean. In the ocean, everything is blue light because of the water. Thanks to our earliest ancestors we still are sensitive to this form of light.
The best thing you can do to avoid the light from electronics is turn them off. Experts recommend turning off screens about one hour before bed but this is not realistic for many of us. We live in a fast-moving world where checking emails and watching our favorite shows is on the top of the to do list.
How can we improve our sleep with all this light around us?
Most of us won’t be willing to give up our electronics at night. How can we get better sleep when we refuse to comply with what our bodies want? One thing you can do is get apps for your electronics to burn off the blue light as you get closer to bed. Something else you can do is buy glasses that filter out blue light. Try out one or both these methods and see if it helps. This will help some but ideally it’s best to read a paper book or enjoy time talking to loved ones at night.
Getting into a sleep rhythm is important if your goal is better sleep. Try to set your bedtime and your wake time on the same schedule every day. Your mind gets used to certain sleep/wake cycles and when you change it your sleep will be disrupted. Sometimes it can be hard to get into a sleep rhythm if you have family around so it’s important to talk to them about your sleep goals. I speak with my wife all the time about my sleep goals and we try our best to work around it together. Getting into a rhythm is how you get better sleep at night.
Skip the evening workout
Working out in the evening can cause sleep problems. If you’re wondering how to get better sleep you should skip the gym 3 hours before bed. Hard workouts raise the stress hormone cortisol and cause a rise in body temperature. When your body is stressed it is harder to fall asleep and when you feel hot you will be tossing and turning. The part of the brain that regulates sleep cycles is also next to the one that senses temperature. Researchers found that the part of the brain that senses temperature may signal the part of the brain that makes us sleepy. A cool body means a sleepy body. Plan your workouts for the morning. Planning your workout for the morning will ensure optimal sleep cycles.
A side note: working out in the morning causes spikes in the stress hormone cortisol. Higher cortisol in the morning is a good thing for staying alert and follows the natural balance of this hormone from morning to evening. Keeping this hormone in check is one of the best things you can do for sleep.
Taking naps all the time is a sign that you’re not getting the right amount of sleep. If you feel the need for a nap, try not to take one to late in the afternoon. Avoid evening napes all together. Everyone is different some people can take a nap and sleep fine at night. Others may find it hard to fall asleep after taking a nap during the day.
I’m a personal that sleeps better without a nap. It’s important to keep a sleep journal to find out what works for you. If you are going to take a nap, try to limit the nap to 30 minutes so that you don’t fall into a sleep cycle during the nap.
Turn the A/C down
Making your bedroom cool around 60-67 degrees is ideal for sleeping. Your mind will start to signal that it’s time for bed when the temperature is at this optimal zone. Sometimes I forget to turn down the A/C before bed and I end up waking up in the middle of the night hot and can’t go back to bed.
A side note: Taking a hot bath or hot shower can trick the body into thinking that it’s colder. Doing this before bed may help you get to sleep faster.
If all else fails, you might want to turn to supplements. I take melatonin about 30 minutes before bed and it seems to help. Other people have used herbal teas with valerian or chamomile to help them get to bed. Always talk to your doctor before trying supplements for sleep.
Starting a workout program is a great way to bring the body back into balance. Exercise is a good way to reduce stress and as we talked about before high stress leads to bad sleep. Make sure to time your workout right so that it doesn’t mess with your sleep cycle. You can do any kind of workout just make sure that you stick to it. My favorite is running long distance. Working out is a great way to get better sleep.
Track your sleep
Using a sleep tracker is one of the best things you can do for your sleep. It gives you feedback on things like how long you slept and how well you slept. Many activity trackers have sleep tracking built in. I like to use my apple watch for tracking. It gives me heart rate, restful sleep data and tells me how many times I woke up in during the night. Tracking your sleep will help you figure out what improves your sleep objectively rather than just going off feel.
Getting a good night sleep is important to all of us and can make or break how we feel. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep is the goal and tracking our sleep can help us tell if we’re getting to our goal. Try some of these tips to see if you’re getting a better night sleep. Thank you for reading our blog how to get better sleep. We hope you enjoyed it.
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