We all know getting a good night’s sleep is essential to not only performance in our training session but our day in general!
Yet so many of us are not getting the required amount of sleep each night. With a 2016 study showing that between 33-45% of Australians are getting inadequate sleep most nights and this is costing Australia BIG time. A study 2016-2017 study showing that lack of sleep is costing $45.21 billion! This is in sick days, productivity losses and non medical work and vehicle accident costs.
But what can you do to ensure you arent the dead weight at work because you are suffering from lack of sleep!
Sleep hygiene! Sleep hygiene is imperative to a good night’s sleep. But what is Sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is just a fancy way of saying sleep routine and I would like to share with you the 6 things I do to ensure I get a great night’s sleep.
Having a good routine helps the body know that you are preparing for something. Just like a good morning routine (LINK) can wake you up, a good sleep routine can help you unwind. After you have set this up, you will find falling asleep much easier.
• Controlling light
• Powering down screens
• Warm shower
• Replay the day
• Breathing and counting
1. Controlling light
Back before the light bulb and electricity. You would rise and fall with the sun, creating a natural circadian rhythm (internal body clock). The body would react, both through the eyes and the skin, to the light and release the hormones (Melatonin, Cortisol and Dopamine) to tell the body to wake up. Now that we have lights on almost 24/7, meaning our natural circadian rhythm is off.
How to help get it back is simple, the same wake up and bedtime. By setting a standard wake up and bedtime, your circadian rhythm falls back into a natural alignment.
Of course this is easier said than done. As we now lead such busy lives, we struggle to go to bed when the sun goes down. So we need to control the light at night.
The most effective way I have done this is by wearing Blueblocker glasses at night. Once I get home, I slap on this bad boys. Not the most stylist of glasses but they block the amount of blue light that is coming through the lights in my home.
If I didn’t wear them, the body assumes it’s still daylight and won’t release the right amount of hormones to help me fall asleep.
Other ways you can control the light dimmer switches or smart lights. Having the ability to control the level of light is imperative to getting a good night’s sleep. This coupled with the Blueblocker’s will help let the body know its bedtime.
2. Powering down screens
Two reasons this is so important, firstly the light admitted from your screen will again give your body the assumption it is still daylight and secondly it will keep your mind active.
Now, many people will say they NEED to watch something to help them unwind, however it is actually detrimental to your sleep routine to do this.
Even if you are watching passively, you are still engaging in the show. Meaning your brain is still working!
I turn off all screens at least an hour before bed and recommend a minimum of 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed. The longer the better!
3. Warm shower
Having a warm shower before bed is another great way of telling your body to prepare for sleep. It also helps mentally wash away the day and relax you.
The warm shower will help regulate your body temperature, however in saying this, you don’t want to shower JUST before you go to bed. Allowing an hour to dry off and cool back down. As body temperature plays a big role in falling to sleep.
To help you form a lasting habit, I recommend using a specific wash only at night, particularly one with lavender. As lavender helps relax and calm the mind. Again this helps as it will also give your body more signals that you are preparing for sleep.
Once you have showered, you don’t want to jump straight into bed to try and go to sleep. You will be still to warm from the shower. You need to allow yourself time to cool down.
Reading can help do this, it is also a great way to slow the mind after your day.
I recommend non fiction books, as personal development or motivational books will trigger thoughts and excite the mind.
Fantasy has been shown to help sleep as well as creative, as you are using your imagination to create the image of the story in your mind.
Reading will also make your eyes tired, helping in the process of falling asleep.
I always recommend reading physically books but kindles can be much more convenient. I DON’T recommend backlight devices, such as iPads for reading. The light will, again, trick the body into thinking it’s daylight.
5. Replay the day
A simple tool I got from the Headspace app, was replaying your day like it was a video on fast forward. The hold process takes about a minute, all you simple do is replay your day in your mind as if it was a video on fast forward.
Starting from when you first got up, throughout the day and finally finishing with you in bed. This is a great way to end the day and help you focus on the next part of the routine.
6. Breathing and counting
Once you have read for approximately 15 to 30 minutes, you will start to feel yourself drift off. This is the time to place the book down and start to focus on your breathing.
There are many different methods of breathing to help sleep but the one I have found most effective is Box Breathing.
Breathing in for a count of 4
Holding for a count of 4
Breathing out a count of 4
Holding for a count of 4
Using this with counting, can focus the mind and help in falling asleep faster. If you have nothing else to focus on, the mind will start to think of things.
Bonus tip- Turn off Wifi and devices to reduce the amount of EMF in your room
2016 sleep study- https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/surveys/SleepHealthFoundation-Survey.pdf
2016-2017 economic study