Updated: May 12, 2020
Sleep. It’s something we have spend about one-third of our lives doing in order for our body to recover properly. Unfortunately, so many of us have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or always feel tired after waking up. We think little of it and ultimately our performance suffers tremendously because of poor sleep hygiene.
Sleep is critical for cognitive function, focus, and self-control. Poor or insufficient sleep can cause poor blood sugar control, inflammation, food cravings, poor recovery, and can even cause depression. The question you might be wondering is: how much sleep do I need per night?
Age, genetics, and differences in daily physical and mental strain can all cause significant variations in the ideal amount of sleep per person. Per the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), for most adults, seven and a half, to nine hours of sleep is most optimal for full body recovery.
Here are six tips to help you fall asleep easier, stay asleep, and wake up feeling your best.
1. Exercise: Exercise is the easiest way to help your sleeping pattern and your immunity level (which is so important during this time!). Exercise, as we know, gives us more energy for our jam-packed day, but there’s one key factor that helps most with sleeping specifically. Exercise helps improve our cardio- vascular resistance which is crucial for helping your sleeping. Remember, exercise means a lot of different things, but at the end of the day, get your heart rate up, move and stretch your body, and you will see better sleep from it! 2. Get Some Sun: After you wake up in the morning, the first thing you should always do is grab some water to re-hydrate your body. The next best thing to do, is open your window, and get some natural sunlight! This is beneficial because direct sunlight after waking up will turn off the melatonin faucet in our brains. This will make sure you don’t have that “tired” feeling for the beginning of your day, and will eliminate “brain fog”. If you feel tired in the afternoon, the answer isn’t more caffeine, but more sunshine. Think of it as a “sunshine break”. The best part about sunlight is that it’s free of charge! 3. Limit Caffeine: How much coffee did you drink per day before the virus? If you were a one-cup type of person, don’t change increase that! Keep in mind, coffee is a stimulant, which will make you feel anxious, and jittery. The more coffee you drink, the more anxious you will feel. This will cause higher anxiety levels, especially if you find yourself looking at the news during a pandemic. Two key tips when it comes to caffeine intake is wait 90 minutes after you wake up for your morning coffee (cortisol and adrenaline levels are at their highest), and stop consumption after roughly 2:00 pm. 4. Lighting: Most artificial lighting sources like our phones, television, and laptop, produce high amounts of blue light and can extremely disrupt your natural sleeping schedule. Blue-light blocking glasses can be worn to reduce the amount of strain on your eyes and brain. The best thing you can do to really eliminate this is to turn off all artificial lighting 1-2 hours before bed. This is also the most common in children/teens who are either playing video games all night, on their phone, or watching television. 5. Limit Alcohol: Let’s be honest, there’s a BIG difference between falling asleep, and passing out. Sure, times are tough, and having the kids home all day might be bothersome enough for you to grab that bottle of wine. However, you have to be careful with alcohol consumption, because alcohol lowers immunity, which is detrimental in a time like this. Additionally, alcohol creates dehydration in the body, on top of the dehydration sleep causes. Dr. Michael Breus, in his book, The Power of When, (a book I highly recommend) suggests to try drinking water after you’ve had a drink, and wait an hour per drink before you go to bed. 6. Meditation: Meditation is as easy as downloading an app on your phone. Most people don’t take meditation or breathing seriously, but it’s extremely beneficial for your sleep and handling high stress situations. A few science-based benefits of meditation include: stress level reduction, enhanced self-awareness, help fight addictions, improved sleeping, and lengthened attention span. Being able to control your breathing will also amplify your nervous system and focus for an overall better performance in your day. An app you can try out that I’ve personally used, is Headspace. This app doesn’t bombard you with a ton of info or exercises that will overwhelm you. It will slowly introduce you to the idea of meditation and how it could change the way you feel and think. The more comfortable you feel, the more you can branch off and experiment with different techniques. Give this a try and I promise you will see a noticeable difference in your mental and emotional clarity. Sleep is the most crucial aspect in proper recovery. Poor sleep is extremely detrimental to our daily performance. These six tips can be used TODAY. They don’t require much, except action. Implementing any of these tips will help your sleep. Try taking one step at a time, see what works for you, and continue making progress. Happy sleeping!
Ready to start on your personal health and fitness journey with Evolve? Contact us at EvolveTrainingNJ@gmail.com or 201-485-8584 to learn more about a complimentary first workout session!
(Blog by Coach Mike Koprowski)