Have a lot of sleep debt to repay? Try these tried and tested sleep enhancing strategies to ensure you get the proper snooze to maximize the hard work you put in at the gym!
1. KEEP IT CONSISTENT, EVEN ON THE WEEKEND!
You may find this is difficult to do, but keeping to a more consistent schedule will help your body know when to expect periods of sleep and wakefulness. It works for kids – they often have a set bed time – and it’ll work for you too! Work out what time you need to get up and then subtract eight hours; that’s the time you need to go to bed!
2. YOUR ROOM, YOUR SANCTUARY
That means no TV, laptops, smart phones or tablets in the bedroom which can be too stimulating to promote sleep for some people. Instead, read a book if you need something to do before you try to go to sleep. Remove all distracting electronic devices from your bedroom and make it a pleasant, welcoming environment. Do not allow your bedroom to also become your office!
3. TEMPERATURE CONTROL
Adjust the thermostat, open or close windows, wear appropriate sleepwear, and modify your bedding as necessary. Many people find a slightly cooler environment is ideal, but find the temperature that works for you. Use whatever means necessary (fans, heaters, etc.) to control the temperature of your bedroom and remember that a cooler temperature not only enhances sleep but may even speed up the fat loss (due to brown fat).
This will help promote longer sleep in the brightness of the early morning and reduce light pollution at night. Your sleep cycle is closely linked to light (something called the circadian rhythm) and we tend to sleep better in darkness. Take steps to block out all external light sources or, if this is not possible, buy a sleep mask.
5. WHITE NOISE
Sounds like noisy neighbors, dogs barking or creaking floorboards can make it difficult to get to or stay asleep. A white noise generator drowns out extraneous sounds so you can sleep peacefully.
White noise can be simply static or a recording of rain on a tent or the sound of a waterfall. There are several white noise generator apps available which are good investments if you suffer from a noisy bedroom. A fan can also be an effective source of white noise!
6. STEP AWAY FROM THE CAFFEINE
A powerful stimulant, caffeine can interfere with your natural sleep rhythms so avoid coffee, tea, cola and chocolate in the late afternoon and evening. Seek out non-caffeinated beverages and drink these after 6pm or around 3-4 hours before bedtime.
If, after following these tips, you are still unable to sleep, rather than lay in bed getting frustrated, get up and do something distracting until you start to feel tired and then go to bed and start your routine from the beginning. Needless to say, if you have frequent bouts of insomnia you should consult your doctor.