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6 Steps For A Sounder Sleep

6 Steps For A Sounder Sleep

Sleep is a cornerstone of good health, yet it often eludes many of us, leading to a cycle of fatigue and frustration.

It’s not just about the quantity of those z’s but their quality too.

While diving into a new diet or fitness regime might seem more exhilarating, it’s easy to underestimate the transformative power of sound sleep:

  • It boosts your energy and vitality.
  • Enhances cognitive functions like learning and memory.
  • Promotes healthier decision-making.
  • Fosters emotional stability.
  • Speeds up recovery from illnesses and injuries.

Last year, I completed a course to become a Certified Sleep, Stress, and Recovery Coach. Based on that journey, here are six practical (and perhaps surprisingly straightforward) steps to elevate your nightly rest:

 

  1. Embrace A Consistent Sleep-Wake Cycle

Your circadian rhythm, a fundamental 24-hour biological cycle, governs not just your sleep but various physiological processes.

If you’ve had jet-lag, you’ve experienced a somewhat extreme effect of being out of sync with this cycle. Even at home an erratic sleep schedule can have a similar effect.

If you can – for the most part – get up and go to bed at around the same time each day, it’ll help keep your body in rhythm, so you feel tired and wakeful at the right times.

  • Tip: Even on weekends, try to keep your sleep schedule within an hour of your weekday routine.
  1. Harness The Power of Light

Light strongly influences our sleep-wake cycle. Morning sunlight kick-starts our day, signalling wakefulness, while dim evening light nudges us toward sleep.

But now we have artificial light available 24/7 and bright screens to stare at all evening. And the light signals us to stay awake.

  • Action Step: Aim to get more daylight in the mornings and limit bright lights – including screen time – in the hour or so before bed bedtime.

  1. Optimise Your Sleep Environment’s Temperature

We’ve all experienced those warm summer nights where we struggle to sleep. Mostly, we prefer to sleep wrapped up under blankets in the cold.

Why?

Research from societies without artificial light suggests that the timing of their sleep coincides better with decreases in temperature than it does light.

A cooler room can enhance sleep quality by aligning with your body’s natural drop in core temperature.

  • Practical Advice: Somewhat counterintuitively, taking a hot bath and cooling before bed can help as it mimics the drop in temperature that cues sleep.
  1. Incorporate Physical Activity Into Your Day

If you’ve been in a consistent exercise routine, you probably already know just how sleep-enhancing it can be. Regular exercise can help us to fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and increase the stability of our sleep cycles.

But even a one-off workout can help.

Be careful with intense exercise too close to bedtime though, as this can cue our body to be alert and awake.

  • Simple Start: A daily walk can significantly uplift your sleep quality without overstimulating your body before bedtime.

  1. Mind Your Caffeine Intake

Caffeine lingers in your system longer than you might expect, disrupting your sleep cycle.

On average, the half-life of caffeine (or how long it takes caffeine to degrade so that only about 50% is left active in your body) is around 6 hours.

  • Guideline: Enjoy your coffee or tea earlier in the day to ensure caffeine doesn’t interfere with your night-time rest.

  1. Establish A Pre-Sleep Routine

You’ve been there. You relax into bed and your brain goes into overdrive.

Clearing your mind can be just as important as relaxing your body. A pre-sleep routine, including jotting down worries or to-dos, can free your mind for rest.

  • Try Tonight: Spend a few minutes writing down any lingering thoughts or tasks for the next day to ease into sleep without burdens.

To enhance your sleep quality, remember, it’s about making consistent, manageable changes, not seeking overnight perfection.

We’re all navigating different challenges, from family responsibilities to personal stressors, yet small steps can lead to significant improvements in our sleep and overall well-being.

Always Keep Reaching!
Mike

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