Sleep is the cheapest and easiest form of recovery and self-care available. Sleep hygiene is the process of creating the right environment for good, restorative sleep.
If you aren't sleeping well, you are operating impaired. Luckily, we've collected 10 simple sleep hacks for getting a better night's rest.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
How much sleep you need as an individual depends on a variety of factors, but some guidelines are generally true.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests between 7 and 9 hours for adults between 18 and 64.
If you aren't getting the sleep you need, you aren't recovering from your workouts optimally, you aren't operating at your full cognitive capacity, and you are at higher risk for a variety of diseases and health issues.
It's trendy right now on Social Media to brag about sleeping very little and constantly "grinding," but that is extremely shortsighted. Sure, you might get a little more done if you're only sleeping 4 hours, but that's not sustainable for any length of time.
Don't mortgage your future for a few extra hours of "productivity" or "hustle." Get in bed and get your sleep, and operate at your full capacity.
OK, we've set the stage, now let's get into the hacks.
These are 10 simple tactics you can employ tonight to start getting a full night of restorative sleep.
1. Make Your Room As Dark As Possible
We evolved from people who slept in caves. Our bodies are programmed to sleep when it's dark.
Exposure to light can suppress melatonin production, which is a hormone released by the pineal gland.
Opt for black out curtains and throw out those glowing alarm clocks.
2. Keep Your Room Cool
When the sun goes down and temperatures cool, your body does the same. This is another evolutionary adaptation.
The challenge here is that we live in chronically climate controlled environments and we've gotten out of touch with thermal stress.
Do your sleep a favor and drop the old thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (or somewhere in that range that is comfortable to you). You will get to sleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
3. Power Down Those Screens
In modern life, we are assaulted most of the day by artificial blue light. The constant exposure messes with circadian rhythms, and you guessed it, your ability to sleep.
There are a few strategies you can use to fight back. First, you could pick up a pair of blue light filtering glasses for when you are working on your computer. Secondly, most smartphones and tablets are equipped with settings to turn off the blue light after a certain time, or completely.
But as far as sleep goes, the best way to keep them from affecting your snooze is to cut out your exposure to all screens 2 - 3 hours before bedtime.
Who knows, you just might improve several other areas of your life with this one strategy.
4. Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule, Even on Weekends
Bad news - you can't catch up on sleep you missed during the week by sleeping in on the weekends.
The better strategy is consistent and steady. Be the tortoise here, not the hare.
5. No Caffeine After 3 PM
You probably don't need to be told, but let's do it anyway. Caffeine is a stimulant. Stimulants keep you awake. If you want to sleep well, you don't need a stimulant.
3 PM is a somewhat arbitrary number. The more accurate guideline is to have your last cup of Joe no later than 6 hours before you hit the sheets.
Now if you aren't a meditator, don't get nervous. This doesn't have to be a woo-woo experience.
The point here is that you clear your mind and connect with your breath. Something as simple as taking deep breaths for a few minutes while you concentrate on the breathing will do.
The research so far on this is very promising and will continue to build. Give it a shot, you might find the mediation life is right up your alley.
7. Take a Hot Bath
Remember earlier we mentioned the core body temperature falling and aiding the transition to sleep?
Well you can facilitate that process by taking a hot bath.
As you get out, the cool air will hit you and that core temperature will drop quickly until it reaches homeostasis.
Not a bather? No worries, showers work too.
8. Lay Off the Booze
This might be counterintuitive because we've probably all had the experience of having one too many and passing out into dreamland.
It's true that alcohol does help many people get to sleep quicker, but it's not conducive to a deep restful sleep.
Skip the nightcap and take it easy during happy hour. You'll sleep much better and avoid the hangover. Win-win.
9. Workout Regularly but Not Too Late
Working out regularly is a fantastic way to adhere to a regular sleep schedule. Nothing encourages the eyes to close and stay that way better than some hard training.
Training too close to bedtime though has the opposite effect quite often. Because exercise releases dopamine, the feel good neurotransmitter, it's likely you'll be too jacked up to sleep.
So definitely hit the gym, but not right before bed.
10. Take Magnesium
Magnesium is so important, yet somewhere around 70% of Americans are deficient in the mineral.
As far as sleep goes, magnesium helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system and regulate melatonin. On top of that, magnesium binds to binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABBA), which is the neurotransmitter responsible for quieting down your nerves.
So yeah, magnesium is a big deal. Luckily, we have you covered.
Do It Tonight
These aren't expensive strategies to implement, nor are are they complicated. All 10 can be put into practice right away.
Put them into practice tonight, and let us know how it works.