The key to financial success and athletic performance could be as simple as good sleeping habits.
According to the British Sleep Council, high earners get the best sleep out of all of us and numerous papers link quality sleep with enhanced physical performance from better endurance and higher pain thresholds to improved accuracy and reaction times.
Increased sleep is also said to be the key to improved health and happiness.
From health to happiness to financial success there are countless reasons we need a good night’s sleep, so read on to find out 7 easy ways to improve your sleep game:
1. Increase light through the day & reduce at night evening
Our bodies run to a circadian rhythm which is regulated by light exposure, meaning that essentially we are programmed to follow the patterns of the sun. Therefore, making sure that our bodies are aware of when it’s day time, by exposing ourselves to the sun helps regulate the circadian rhythm.
Another stimuli our bodies use to know when to sleep, is the release of melatonin. This sleep promoting hormone increases at night to make us sleepy, but too much bright light or blue light can confuse our senses and disrupt the release of melatonin making it more difficult to get to sleep.
As it’s difficult for us to reduce the amount of artificial light we are exposed to blue light glasses can assist. They are definitely worth a try if you are struggling to reduce screen time towards the end of the day.
2. Don’t consume coffee after 3pm
This one is no major surprise, watch your caffeine intake, it is a stimulant. A coffee in the morning is fine, but avoid caffeine after 3pm. If you’re feeling tired in the afternoon, reaching for a coffee can seem like a good idea, but you will get yourself trapped in a cycle; feeling tired in the afternoon, grab a coffee to get you through, have a poor night’s sleep and repeat.
3. Avoid alcohol
Sorry to be a party pooper, but alcohol is terrible for your sleep. Some people believe that alcohol can help them sleep, and although it may be successful in sending you off to the land of nod, the quality of sleep you receive is terrible. Alcohol prevents you from cycling through the stages of light sleep, deep sleep and REM that we need in order to feel fully rested.
4. Don’t eat late in the evening
Heading to bed on a full stomach is shown to have negative effects on our ability to get to sleep as well as our quality of sleep. I know this is easier said than done in this day and age due to working late and rushing around. The good news is, research has found that a light, low carb meal may not have the same impact, so if you have to eat late, make sure it isn’t your main meal and remember to keep it light.
5. Exercise through the day but not too close to bed
Exercise is great for sending you to sleep, just not at bed time. Working out first thing in the morning is a great opportunity to get a host of benefits from your exercise routine as well as stimulating the body's energy reserves for the day, burning calories while you work and ensuring you get an early night to replace the spent energy. Exercise too close to bed and you risk energising yourself too much. If you’ve got young kids you’d understand this - too much excitement means bedtime becomes a struggle.
6. Relax/clear your mind in the evening
Try something relaxing in the evening instead of invigorating (who knew?), read a book, have a bath, meditate, spend time to wind down, put yourself in a calm state and you will be struggling to keep those eyes open.
7. Try to keep you bedtime and wake up time the same
Referring back to the Circadian Rhythm and Melatonin release, your body is on a cycle, constantly confusing the cycle is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. Help your body out by allowing it to build the cycle for you and let yourself follow the flow. Set a regular bedtime and wake up time and try not to keep pressing the snooze button. Even on the weekend - as a rule of thumb keep yourself to your wake and sleep cycle. Though in saying that - if you have a a big night and your sleep suffers, you can play catch up during the weekend as well.
Bonus: Catch Up Sleep
Sleeping during the day can seem like a bad idea, you won’t sleep at night and can put your body into some bad rhythms, and this can be true, but it can also help you get you out of ‘debt’. Be warned though - an hour of sleep lost may take up to 4 hours to recover! So all in all, we are better if we can maintain a regular sleep pattern.