I’m sure by now you appreciate just how important quality sleep is to your health and general wellbeing. If you could bottle it then it would arguably be the greatest drug on earth!
- Allows you to physically perform at your best in and out of the gym as 90% of your anabolic hormones are released during deep slow wave sleep.
- Up regulates your immune system to better fight off colds, flu and infections.
- Enhances your mental focus, memory and performance.
- Helps maintain a healthy body fat %.
- Makes you feel less anxious and happier.
- Increases your risk of illness and injury 4 fold.
- Causes blood sugar dysregulation leading to sugar cravings and energy crashes.
- Increases your risk of fat gain especially visceral fat.
- Leaves you prone to brain fog and memory lapses.
- Makes you prone to anxiety and far less stress resistant.
Needless to say, sleep is vitally important to your health, wellbeing and vitality.
Sleep hacks to help maximise sleep quality
1. Start your day right
Setting your body up for good sleep starts with your morning routine. Ideally you should get some light exposure, eat some food and do some exercise within the first hour of the day.
I appreciate this isn’t easy or convenient for everybody but your bodies circadian rhythm is partly driven by light exposure so exposing your eyes to at least 2,000 lux of light first thing will help keep your bodies internal clock in check. Outside light even on an over cast day is likely to be at least 100,000 lux. If you can’t get outside then at least get exposure to a full spectrum light bulb or to a Joovv lamp.
Eating a protein and fat based breakfast within an hour of waking will help you balance your blood sugars and up-regulate your brain’s production of dopamine and acetyl choline, helping you stay energised and focused for the day ahead.
Finally, doing some light exercise that gets your heart rate above 120pbm will help energise your cells allowing you to better perform in the day ahead.
These 3 simple steps combined will help lock in your circadian rhythm allowing you to better feel energised in the morning and sleepy at night.
2. Stop eating at least 3 hours before bed
If you eat too close to sleep then your body is forced to focus its energy on digestion and blood sugar balance as opposed to cellular restoration and regeneration. The result being you will have disturbed low quality sleep.
A helpful tip that I use is to brush and floss my teeth after my evening meal around 7pm – then it makes me think twice about having anything else to eat!
3. Set a bed time alarm
Eoin Lacey of the Irish Strength Institute says the most important alarm clock you can set is a going to bed alarm. By consistently going to bed at a reasonable hour every night (before mid night and ideally before 11pm) you set the stage for great sleep.
I know it’s tempting in this age of box sets to stay up late but your mind and body will thank you if you give yourself the necessary time in bed each night.
If you do need a morning alarm then ideally use a light alarm.
Top 3 Sleep aids
If you’re really serious about optimising your sleep then the following sleep aids are a great investment.
1. Purchase a sleep tracking device.
The simple act of measuring your sleep quantity and quality will give you the impetus to do something about it. There are many different gadgets and devices out there but here at CoActive we like to use either the Oura Ring or the Whoop Strap. Both have their pros and cons but most importantly they accurately measure your bodies biometrics such as resting heart rate, respiration rate, Hrv and your bodies sleep cycles all of which will give a great insight into the quality of your sleep.
2. Use a grounding or Earthing Bed sheet
Grounding or earthing means connecting to the earths negative surface charge. This is one of the reasons why walking barefoot on a beach or on lush grass feels so good. The benefits of earthing include reducing inflammation, lowering stress and enhancing deep sleep. You can reap some of these benefits by purchasing an earthing bed sheet.
Since using my earthing sheet, I immediately saw a drop in my resting heart rate and subsequent improvement in my sleep quality. To find out more and to purchase a sheet check click here.
3. Wear Blue light blocking glasses
The un natural blue light emitted from screens at night suppresses your body’s melatonin production. If like me you enjoy watching a bit of TV at night to help wind down this isn’t ideal. The answer is blue light blocking glasses. Again, you can clearly see the benefits if you are tracking your sleep as I’ve noticed that REM sleep which is the sleep you need for memory consolidation is massively improved.
Here at CoActive we are a big fan of Swannies.
There you have it, now go get some quality shut eye!
If you’d like to learn more about optimising your sleep then please contact us using the form below.