It can be horrible when you’re lying in bed desperately trying to figure out how to sleep better.
You feel drained, unproductive during your day, like you’re Velcroed to the bed in the morning and about as energetic as a sloth on sleeping pills.
Plus, your metabolism slows, your hormones are all mixed up and you’re less able to resist poor food choices.
And this means you start putting on weight and find it almost impossible to lose any extra weight that’s already there!
So fixing your sleep is essential for optimal health and body weight.
What is Good Sleep?
If you had a good sleep you will wake up feeling well rested and energised ready for the day ahead.
You should not wake up during the night (even to go to the toilet) and you should not need to ware out the snooze button every morning.
Our sleep cycles are based on the 24 hour rhythm of when the sun rises and sets.
When the sun rises and light hits us, our body releases the hormone cortisol and we feel awake.
As the sun starts to go down cortisol production slows and melatonin takes over, making us wind down and prepare for sleep.
Melatonin peaks at around 10pm, meaning getting to sleep between 10-11pm and then rising in line with the sun at around 6-7am is optimal.
This has been ingrained in our physiology for thousands of years!
But a combination of stress, staying up too late, effectively giving yourself a coffee-based blood transfusion every day and a host of other things can screw al this up.
So How Do You Get Good Sleep Then?
It’s all well and good saying go to sleep at this time and don’t get up in the night.
But if you lie awake until 1am and then when you finally do drop off you get up every two hours for the toilet then it’s not much good.
So here are my top three tips for getting better sleep.
How To Sleep Better #1: Minimise stimulants
Many of us have way too much caffeine, sugar and other stimulants.
These are firing up the system and keeping it alert.
But they stay in the system having this affect much longer than you think.
In fact, caffeine has a half-life of six hours… meaning it takes six hours for the amount of caffeine in your system to half.
So imagine you have your fifth coffee of the day after work at 6pm – you’re system is going to be fired up to hell!
So minimise your caffeine use after 3pm and you allow your body to move towards its natural sleep patterns.
And sugar gives a similar issue.
Eating nothing but bagels, bread and donuts all day is screwing your blood sugar and creating havoc inside your body when you’re trying to chill out and sleep.
How To Sleep Better #2: Entrain a good pattern
It’s common now for people to work until late and basically train the body not to want to go to sleep until midnight or beyond.
As a business owner, I know first hand how difficult it is to stop sometimes. But working on this is a great place to start.
So if you’ve spent the last few months or years falling asleep at midnight and you now try going to bed at 10pm, then you’re probably not going to go to sleep at that time.
This means training your body clock back to where it is supposed to be is essential.
A good way of doing this is to start in the morning.
So instead of going to sleep at midnight and dragging yourself out of bed at 7.30am, bite the bullet and force yourself to get up at 6am.
This way you will feel more tired in the evening and be more likely to drop off between the 10-11pm mark we’re aiming for.
Once you master this and you’re getting a good sleep through the night, I guarantee your energy and all-round positivity will be a LOT higher.
How To Sleep Better #3: Minimise bright lights at night
I mentioned cortisol earlier as it is a hormone that keeps us alert and awake.
This is good… in the morning and during the day when the light of the sun causes a natural rise in cortisol levels.
But not good when the sun has gone down and your body should be winding down too.
So staring at laptops and TV screens with a whole host of lighting on your house is a guaranteed way of ‘tricking’ your body into keep pumping cortisol.
You may feel like the TV is your way of relaxing, but in fact underneath your body is on high alert.
Think of a swan gliding across the water gracefully, but its legs paddling like crazy underneath.
So try minimising your use of laptops, TVs, iPads, etc. an hour before going to sleep and use only the smallest amount of light possible (use your dimmer switches if you have them).
Plus, you save on your electric bill too – happy days!
A great app to dim your computer lights in line with sunset wherever you are in the world is flux.