Seven habits of highly effective sleepers

There’s nothing more frustrating than a bad night’s sleep.

The next day is always spent on coffee trying to feel good again! From treating a large number of top-class athletes one thing they can do is sleep! There are simple things you can do that I have seen top class athletes do that can help you have more energy for sport, work and life!

Think about it, how many people do you hear complaining of tiredness day-to-day? A lot, but more to the point, how many of these people are actually doing something about it? What separates highly effective sleepers from the fatigued is their approach to sleeping.

Not all of us are lucky enough to fall soundly asleep as soon as our head hits the pillow and wake up refreshed. It takes commitment, routine and the practice of good sleep hygiene. You need to address your lifestyle choices before declaring yourself as an insomniac for life.

Invest in a supportive mattress, clear your bedroom of distraction and go to bed at a reasonable hour, be proactive.

Here is a list of things you can do to help your sleep.

Maintain an effective circadian rhythm

Effective sleepers master their circadian rhythm - they know what sleep they need and do all they can to get it. The optimum amount of sleep for adults aged 18-64 is 7-9 hours, says The National Sleep Foundation. But the time you choose to go to bed is up to you.

According to sleep expert Michael Breus, the average sleep cycle for any individual is around 90 minutes, and we require around 5 of these 90 minute cycles each night. When calculated, this amounts to 7.5 hours per night.

To work out what time you should go to sleep, choose your ideal wake-up time and work backwards 7.5 hours. From this point onwards, even at the weekends, aim to stick to these specific wake-up and sleep times, as this helps establish an effective circadian rhythm (your internal clock ).

Consistent sleep is key to avoiding daytime tiredness. It promotes a healthy hormone balance, increases energy levels and allows time for recovery. It’s hard a habit to pick up, but you’ll notice dramatic improvements by adopting a regular sleep pattern.

DON’T use smartphones before bedtime

This is a bad habit that many poor sleepers can admit to doing - incessant scrolling. You’re bored, it’s late, you want to see what your friends are up to and ‘catch up with the world’ before setting your alarm. Big mistake. Like sleeping in front of the TV, the artificial blue light that emanates from your phone is damaging your sleep/wake patterns.

It tricks the brain into thinking that it’s morning, and interferes with melatonin production as a result. But melatonin does more than help us fall asleep - without it, you’re more vulnerable to disease and symptoms of depression. Switch off all technology well before heading to bed and keep your phone on the other side of the room as you sleep - no more Facebook at 2am!

Eat the right things

How you fuel your day is critical to determining how well you’ll sleep. By grazing on sugar-filled chocolate bars throughout the day (that spike insulin levels and leave you sleepy when you shouldn’t be ) you promote inconsistency and find yourself more inclined to nap, which leads to disrupted sleep. Likewise, guzzle coffee after coffee 9-5, and you won’t be able to switch off come bedtime. Where possible, steer clear of high-fat and sugar-rich foods - they aren’t sleep inducing. Same goes for alcohol, spicy dishes and caffeine; if you’re struggling to sleep, know your limits.

Instead stock your kitchen with sleep-friendly foods. The tryptophan content of wholegrain carbs and foods such as turkey and cottage cheese, help curb late-night hunger pangs by stimulating the creation of serotonin/melatonin, which regulate your sleep/wake patterns. Try snacking on a small portion of bread or crackers an hour before you sleep. Camomile tea, honey, almonds and kiwi fruit are also said to do the trick.

Read avidly

Highly effective sleepers love to read. They switch off all electrical devices 1-2 hours before hopping into bed and curl up with a good book. The wind down process before trying to sleep is very important to achieving a good night’s rest. It tells the body that all activity has stopped, and you’re ready to relax.

Reading does just that. Rather than stimulating the mind, you immerse yourself in worlds far away from your own; removing any worries and enabling you to de-stress. A report from The Telegraph claims that ‘it only takes 6 minutes reading time to reduce the heart rate/tension in muscles,’ which in turn, helps you to relax. Time to hit the library.

Appreciate the sunshine

Locking yourself away for 8 hours a day in a lightless office can also impact your quality of sleep. By not getting a sufficient amount of sunlight, you confuse your body clock and disrupt your natural sleep/wake patterns.

A study presented at the 27th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, revealed the need for sunlight to its true extent. When comparing the sun-seeking habits of 49 different day-shift workers; 27 in windowless workplaces and 22 in workplaces with windows, they found that the employees who were exposed to natural light more often did in fact, have a better night’s sleep and “slept an average of 46 minutes more per night,” says Forbes.

What’s more, workers with windows also proved to be more active in the daytime, which also contributes to good quality sleep. Don’t eat your lunch at your desk and embrace a little sunshine, for the sake of your sleep.

Exercise

Studies show that people who exercise regularly sleep much better than those who do not. Any amount of exercise can help, but timing is important: we recommend you exercise during the day and avoid exercising in the late evening before bedtime if at all possible. If you have to exercise just before bed this is better than no exercise.

Try to exercise outside if at all possible or by a window so your body can see the day time. In the morning or as the sun is going down are two great times to exercise. In work, try look out the window to see the light as this keeps you active and also contributes to good quality sleep. Don’t eat your lunch at your desk and embrace a little sunshine, for th

For more information like this you can download my book and audiobook version at www.everardpilates.com/book

 

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