A while ago, I started to get interested in the science of sleep and how it affects our productivity and quality of life. I began to understand that doing small tasks during the day and before going to sleep helps a lot during the next day. I set up a ‘pre-sleeping’ routine in order to get more relax and more rest. Here are some thoughts and recommendations that you might enjoy reading and practising!
Common research says that we need at least 8 hours of sleep, but it doesn’t talk a lot about the quality of the sleep. After 6 to 7 hours of sleep, the quantity of hours you sleep doesn’t imply better rest, instead, the quality plays a more important role.
Our circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal body clock that’s running in our unconscious brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as the sleep/wake cycle. With our daily routines and lifestyle choices we tend to alter our circadian rhythm, which can have bad outcomes for our health. However, we can create simple habits to positively influence our circadian rhythm to improve sleep quality and, therefore, result in more energy and attention the following day.
Some recommendations to get better rest:
- Stick to a sleep schedule: Going to bed at the same time every day helps your body to get used to the rhythm. You need to train your body and mind to start generating the necessary hormones to sleep.
- Relaxing bedtime ritual: You can have a bath, read a book or simply do a 10-minute meditation in bed. Creating a ritual will train your mind and body to realize it’s time for resting.
- No Lights in the room: If its possible, try not to have any light entering the room while you sleep. You shouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of your face when all lights are off and it’s time to sleep.
- No Blue Lights a few hours before bed: Blue Lights are lights that live in the spectrum of colours that are produced by the screens of electromagnetic devices. They are known to be harmful to our eyes and they affect the body’s ability to produce melatonin, the body’s hormone that produces sleepiness. You can put your screen devices on “Night Shift” mode in order to turn down the blue lights, which changes the screens to “warmer” colours. You can also use the f.lux app on your computer, it turns down, or up, the blue lights depending on the suns position in order to imitate natural light during the day. If you want to go extreme, you can buy a blue light filter glasses.
- Exercise daily: Exercise is the most natural remedy for a sleeping disorder and getting a good rest. Some studies have confirmed that daily exercise reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep in people with chronic insomnia.
- Eat a light dinner: You don’t need too much energy during the night while you’re sleeping so why eat a big dinner? Big meals prolong digestion which interferes with a good night sleep. Also, try to avoid spicy foods at dinner. Gas-forming foods and hurried eating also interfere with sound sleep.
- Read a fiction book before bed: Avoid non-fiction or technical books that will stimulate your thinking mind, it’s better to read a light and enjoyable read.
- Try to avoid this three things:
- Caffeine after 2.00 pm: Caffeine has a stimulant effect, which isn’t good for sleeping. Recent research found out that caffeine consumed between 0 and 6 hours before bedtime significantly reduced total sleep time—consumed 6 hours before bed could even reduce total sleep by more than 1 hour.
- Afternoon naps: While they might sound harmless and could be productive in some cases, a more “natural” sleeping cycle is recommended. So skip that afternoon nap and let your body and mind be tired at the end of the day.
- TV or Netflix: It’s ok once in a while to watch a tv show or movie, the problem is, nowadays TV shows have a ‘formula’ so our minds are ‘hooked’ in front of the screen. Watching a TV show just before going to bed is not recommended because you might want to see another chapter, and another, disturbing your sleep routine. If you add the fact that some of the TV shows are obscure and thought-provoking, they don’t help your mind to relax before going to bed.
- Homemade infusion for falling sleep faster: This one is brought by Tim Ferris a best-seller writer who experiments with many things in different areas. This infusion consists on 1 cup of hot water, 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar and one 1 tablespoon of organic honey. Mix everything and drink it before bed and you will have the best sleep of your life o so they say! Worth the try if you are a hard sleeper.
BONUS 1: Track your sleep quality with an app.
I started to use ‘Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock’. This is an app that allows you to set an alarm clock in a half an hour range and then analyzes your sleep during the night. In the morning, it wakes you up on your lightest sleep phase, in a really smooth and natural way.
You can also get the premium version (29.99 US/year subscription), it has additional sleeping statistics, trends, snore recording and more data inputs to analyze your sleep. I recommend the paid subscription if you want to see how different factors can affect your sleep quality and which days, weeks, months you sleep better.
BONUS 2: Products you can buy for improving your sleeping quality (Affiliate Link Marketing Products)
Sunrise Alarm Clock – hOmeLabs: hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock – Digital LED Clock with 6 Color Switch and FM Radio for Bedrooms – Multiple Nature Sounds Sunset Simulation & Touch Control – With Snooze Function for Heavy Sleepers
- Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock: Philips Wake-Up Light with Colored Sunrise Simulation alarm clock & sunset fading night light, White HF3520
- Blue Light Filter Glasses: Uvex Skyper Blue Light Blocking Computer Glasses with SCT-Orange Lens (S1933X)
- One of the best sleeping mattresses: Zinus Memory Foam 12 Inch Green Tea Mattress, Full
- Recommended tea for nighttime: Taylors of Harrogate Organic Chamomile Herbal Tea, 20 Teabags
- Recommended pillow: Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow (2-Pack) – Luxury Plush Gel Pillow – Dust Mite Resistant & Hypoallergenic – Queen
- Another recommended high-quality pillow: Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow Combination With Adjustable Fit and Zipper Removable Kool-Flow Breathable Cooling Hypoallergenic Pillow Cover (Queen)
More Resources: Ted Talks about Sleeping & Videos
- Why do we sleep by Russel Foster
- How to succeed? Get more sleep by Arianna Huffington
- One more reason to get a good night sleep by Jeff lliif
- The brain benefits of deep sleep – and how to get more of it by Dan Gartenberg
- Our natural sleep cycle is nothing like we do know by Jessa Gamble
- 6 Uncommon Tips for Mastering Sleep
Well, lads, I think that’s enough to get you on the right track to try some of these daily habits. You’ll feel more rested and relaxed, which translates into a healthier lifestyle and improves productivity.
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