I think I speak for everyone when I say we all love to sleep. Sleeping in, sleep-overs... anything involving sleep :) Is the sleep you're getting enough though?
Most people assume when they turn in at night, as long as they get their 6-8 hours, they should be recharged and ready to tackle the next day. Sadly, this is far from the truth. In fact, the amount of time you are sleeping is only one factor in your overall sleep quality. There are several different levels within our sleep cycles that need to be reached in order to ensure top quality of rest and recovery each night. Most of us are completely unaware that simple things we are doing in our daily routines are affecting, or even prohibiting us from obtaining the best sleep/ rest/ recovery possible.
Once upon a time our ancestors woke up with the sun and went to sleep with the stars. The slow and natural rise of the sun steadily increased the amount of natural light absorbed through the eyelids until they woke up. Nowadays, it is common for people to fall asleep with lights, tv's, computers, and cell phones on all around them...and while artificial light isn't nearly as strong as natural light, it compromises the depth and soundness of our sleep cycles. In addition to the added technology becoming part of our bedtime routine, people today spend more time than ever before inside. We block most of the natural light out and rely on alarms to wake us up in a panic instead of the sun's delicate light to slowly pull us out of a deep slumber. While most of us can not rearrange our lives completely to rise and fall with the sun and stars, there are several small changes we can add and subtract from our lives to vastly improve sleep quality.
Below I am simply going to give you some awesome tips and tricks to get the best sustainable sleep habits and improve the overall quality.
Tips & Tricks
F. Lux- Give it a try...This program is easily downloaded for your computer, and even some cell phones. F. Lux will automatically adjust the backlighting on your device to a more natural source of lighting such as candle light. The backlighting on devices inhibits the production of melatonin and tells your body it is not yet time for bed. This program will help with inhibiting sleep as most t.v. cell phones, and computers do, especially about an hour or so before bedtime.
Sugar - Avoid it! Sugar intake can be directly related to the quality of your sleep. As mentioned in previous articles, sugar can unnecessarily creep into our diets and facilitate a slew of unwanted side effects. Even fruit can be detrimental if consumed excessively or at inopportune time.
Sleep Cycle Alarm App - This app, and a few others like it, take advantage of the motion sensors embedded on your smart phone. Sleep Cycle Alarm calculates your sleep cycles based on tossing and turning and time. Additionally, this app wakes you up slowly and much more pleasantly over a 10-30min time span.
Caffeine - General rule to all my coffee drinkers, on is a good cut off time. Have a cup or two in the a.m. but don't milk it all day...
Environment - Create a serene environment free of lit televisions or cell phone screens. Try to reduce background noise as much as possible unless it is something that relaxes you (no, a TV show doesn't count).
Time in bed- I challenge you to go to bed 15-20 minutes earlier than you normally would in an effort to move closer to that 8 hour window of sleep. This week may be 15-20 minutes and when that becomes easy, try adding whatever other manageable increment of time the following week or so until you are getting a solid 7-8 hours.
...and for all my early risers, and coffee drinkers, i'll say it again Bullet Proof coffee is the way to go. Until next time...get some zzz's.