Sleeping better matters. While we can’t change the rules of life, we can start to control the factors that affect the length and quality of our sleep. Follow these guidelines for a set period – just a week or two to start – and track how you feel every morning and throughout your day.
The results will be a more effective, cognizant understanding of how you can empower yourself for a better night’s rest – and improved performance.
1) Value your sleep as much you do your diet and physical fitness
When you become aware of your sleep and its importance, you’re more prepared to be able to optimize it.
2) Go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends
Training ourselves to sleep along with our natural circadian rhythms will lead to better overall health and performance. Hint: Set an alarm for when it’s bedtime.
3) Stop using electronic devices one hour before you go to sleep
We live in an age where phones, laptops, and TVs are ubiquitous. Learning when to put them down before bedtime will leave us more rested in the morning. The content you are viewing can elevate your heart-rate and/or may cause stress (from work email, for example) and the high-intensity blue light emitted from electronics regulates your melatonin, the sleep hormone. So tune out early and take advantage of screen filters or special glasses that block blue light.
4) Do not eat heavy meals or drink alcohol within 2 hours of going to bed
These factors affect our resting heart rate and thus are a good way to push our sleep cycle out of whack.
5) Sleep in a dark and cool room
Shut off any light sources (including the glow from electronics) and use curtains to block external light until morning. Although not always possible, try to cool your bedroom down to 65F (18.5C).
6) Only use your bedroom for sleeping and romance
Your sleep will improve if you refrain from using your bed for watching TV, talking on the phone, working on a laptop or doing homework. Your bed is definitely not a good place for eating.
7) Exercise regularly
30 minutes of daily activity, even if it’s light, can prepare you for a good night’s rest. Just don’t exercise too late – it will elevate your metabolism, which can make it more difficult fall asleep.
8) Cut caffeine after midday (2pm)
Experts have proven that the effects of a late afternoon cup of coffee can last much longer than perceived. So much so that it can cause restless sleep, even hours later.
9) Experiment with natural, non-drug sleep aids
What helps certain people sleep better than others is as different as our personalities. From new pillows and mattresses to white-noise machines, read up on the benefits of these tools and select those that help where you’re most challenged.
10) Over time, begin to recognize and remove other detractors from your sleep
Awareness and control over our environment – and sustaining this positive viewpoint of sleep’s importance – will continue to have lasting effects for you and your overall performance today and for your future.
If you’re interested in seeing how these sleeping tips affect your sleep, have a look at the Oura ring in the Oura Shop. It tracks your sleep stages, sleep duration and sleep quality so that you’ll get proof that these tips are working (or not) for you.