You will find many articles about health and fitness talking about working out and dieting. As this is an all-around self-development Blog, How to sleep better will be an equally important subject.
You have probably heard a few things about what you should do and should not do before going to bed, eat this, don’t eat that, drink tea, don’t drink coffee and such.
Lets go over a few things that play a direct role on your sleep’s quality.
Going to bed and Waking up the same time every day!
The number one answer on how to sleep better and the one that can make the most difference, is going to bed every night at the same time and as well as waking up at the same time.
Our body is regulated by what is called, Circadian Rhythm. A process that regulates our sleeping pattern based on consistency, around the 24-hour length of the day.1
Going to bed at the same time will make a shift on your sleeping habits that will drastically improve the quality of your sleep. Going to bed at the same time reinforces the body’s Circadian Rhythm, allowing you to sleep a lot faster(reduced sleep latency), reaching a deep sleep level and essentially making your sleeping hours much more efficient regarding rest.
A way to aid your circadian rhythm calibration is by getting as much sun exposure as you can upon waking up and as little as possible before bed. Our system is made to recognise daytime and nighttime by the input it receives. By feeding it the right input at the right time, we can give ourselves a boost.2
Waking up at the same time carries its own benefits. Going to bed every night on a schedule will soon reveal that waking up on schedule becomes much easier and it takes far less time to become fully alert. But there is one trap to waking up when we should, the snooze button.
Don’t hit the snooze button
In order to get a good quality sleep and wake up rested, our sleeping cycle has to go through all of its stages and wake up when your sleep is at its lightest.
A sleeping cycle consists of:
- Light Sleep Stage (transitional)
- Stable sleep
- Deep sleep
- Rem sleep (Rapid Eye Movement)
It takes about 90-120 minutes for our sleeping cycle to make a full rotation.3 By the end of your sleeping cycle, REM sleep should be coming at its end before starting over again.
When your alarm goes off, your sleeping cycle is broken. As a result, when you hit snooze you start an entirely new cycle of sleep. That sleep is then prematurely broken 5 minutes later. Depending on timing, you can even throw yourself back into the stage of REM sleep.4
The result of getting up after snoozing is feeling much sleepier than before, making it much harder to get up and reach a state of complete awareness.
An additional benefit that is offered by going to bed and waking up consistently, is sleep cycle regulation. Your sleep is regulated regarding the information collected from your habits. When you sleep at a fixed time, the cycle will be completed around the time that you should be up.
Blue Light: How it hurts your sleep
As we saw earlier, sunlight can be very beneficial when we are exposed to it upon waking up. That is because of our Circadian Rhythm being reinforced that it is the right time to wake up.
Sunlight is the direct source of blue light. And it is the exposure to blue light that hints to our senses that it is morning time, hence not the time to feel sleepy.
With technological progression, LED lights are being used for nearly all artificial light sources. The vast majority of modern screens in laptops, phones and pretty much all screens, are using LEDs as a light source.
The problem with LED lights is that the light that they produce is in the blue spectrum. They seem in that way to replicate the light from the sun more closely.5
The result of this is that we are being bombarded by blue light. Be that from your phone, laptop or TV.
Constant exposure to blue light has the same effect sun exposure has in the morning for your Circadian Rhythm.6 The sources are so many that could set your biological clock on 24 hour day time, giving you the impression that it is daytime the entire time.
How to resolve this?
Blue light blocking glasses come handy when you are working behind a screen. Blue light, other than hurting your sleep is straining on your eyes and can cause headaches and eye soreness.
Avoiding bright screens before bed, can also help. Some times, a book before bed, other than educating, can be of much benefit on preparing you for bed.
There are many factors in getting good quality sleep. Exercise, even at home is going to massively improve your sleep’s quality. If you need guidance on that CLICK HERE.
As well as exercise, dieting and timing are important to an all-round healthy life. For guidance on dieting CLICK HERE.
Despite that, just like anything, if you want to make true change you have to focus on small victories. If you are used to a sleeping schedule for a long time, you have to make small changes. If you are used to sleeping say, at 1 – 2 am at night, try getting ready for bed a little bit earlier. 30 minutes earlier per week is not only achievable, but it can take you to were you want to be in no time.
Humans are very adaptable, and it is crazy to what you can get used to given time. Just like it takes time to get used to bad habits, it takes time to change them.
Be patient with yourself, it’s ok to take your own time. Your success is only limited by the times you are willing to try.