The best way to recover is sleep – there’s no doubt about it. Just as your cell phone needs to be plugged in at night, so does your body after the day.
Below, I’ll outline five things I’ve implemented in order to improve my sleep every night. Remember, the most important of all of these is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. While I believe this to be most important, I’ll refrain from adding it to this list.
- Avoid caffeine. Coffee, colas, certain teas, and chocolate contain caffeine, and its effects can take as long as eight hours to wear off fully. Caffeine blocks your brain from detecting “adenosine” build-up, which the body needs to detect and then release in order to fall asleep. Therefore, an energy drink or even Diet Coke in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night. If you’re “not as sensitive to caffeine as others,” you’re wrong. While you probably have built up a tolerance to the stimulant, your sleep is suffering without you knowing it.
- Avoid large meals and beverages late at night. A light snack is okay, but a large meal can cause indigestion, which interferes with sleep. Drinking too many fluids at night can cause frequent awakenings to go to the bathroom.
- Dark bedroom, cool bedroom. Get rid of anything in your bedroom that might distract you from sleep, such as noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed, or warm temperatures. You sleep better if the temperature in the room is kept on the cool side. Having a comfortable mattress and pillow can help promote a good night’s sleep.
- Buy an alarm clock. Your bedroom needs to be gadget free. A cell phone, computer, or T.V. in the bedroom can be a distraction and deprive you of needed sleep, especially when you hear or see a notification. Additionally, the blue light emitted from these devices delays the release of melatonin in your brain – which prevents you from falling asleep faster. If you tell yourself that “I’ll just fall asleep watching this show…” you’re far too sleep-deprived and your sleep will then be disrupted later.
- Routine. Your kids have a “Bedtime Ritual” – so should you. Going through the same routine every night tells the mind to slow down and gets the body relaxed before bed. Here’s my routine if you need some ideas:
- Take a picture of my booklet and send it to my coach reporting on the five factors.
- Grab my cell-phone charger and plug it into an outlet in the kitchen. Then I place it face-down.
- Take my contacts out of my eyes.
- Brush my teeth.
- Lay out my clothes for tomorrow morning’s workout on the floor.
- Set my alarm clock (my cell phone is not my alarm clock).
- Say a prayer.
- Lights out
I would be hypocritical if I haven’t implemented these things myself. I have implemented these five items as well as the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. They work.
What to do right now
Right now, go on to Amazon and buy two things: An alarm clock and blackout curtains. I even placed a hyperlink to the alarm clock and blackout curtains I purchased. $35 total if you buy them together.
- Your cell phone needs to be treated as the plague if you’re in search of better sleep.
- If you can see your hand two inches in front of your face at night, your bedroom is too light. Sleeping in total darkness, the purpose of blackout curtains, makes a bigger difference than you would think.
As you already know, Dr. Matthew Walker is our favorite scientist when it comes to research on sleep. These ideas originally came from his book, Why We Sleep.
Sweet dreams, my friends.