1. Exercise early
As you should know by now, exercise can be very beneficial to your health in a number of different ways. However, the timing of your exercise is key if you want to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Firstly, exercise raises cortisol which is something that is not conducive to a good sleep. Secondly, exercise will raise body temperature and this is another factor you want to avoid late at night. The best ways to ensure you avoid these is to exercise early in the day and have cold showers (at night), especially living on the equator.
2. Keep a regular sleep schedule
The body loves routine. Try to wake up at the same time every day, stay active and you should be tired around the same time every evening. For optimal health “Early to bed, Early to rise” is a great mantra to try and achieve.
3. Avoid alcohol and stimulants
It should be common knowledge that ‘stimulants’ (Caffeine, Nicotine, Alcohol, etc) are not great to have in your system at bedtime. Some legal, everyday products which contain these stimulants are:
- Coffee and teas
- Diet drinks
- Diet pills
- Wine and Beer.
An interesting fact about caffeine is that it has a “half-life” of 6 hours. Half-life means that after a certain amount of time (6 hours for a large coffee) there is still half the amount of caffeine in the system. The best habit to adopt is to avoid coffee in the afternoon and keep to 1-2 per day as early as possible.
4. Create your sleep ‘cave”
Early humans slept in cool and dark spaces and you should try to emulate this habit. Think “Cool, Quiet and Dark” when it comes to the bedroom. Cool - the optimum temperature depends on personal preference but 18.3 celcius, 65 degrees fahrenheit seems to be a number a lot of experts agree on. Quiet - This is a major factor that many people don’t even think of. If you live in a noisy neighbourhood, invest in some ear-blockers and these can be a game-changer for some people. Dark - even the smallest light can suppress melatonin production, try to make your bedroom “black”, buy black out curtains if necessary, you shouldn’t be able to see your own hand.
Is Wi-Fi a factor?
5. Turn off the blue lights
A new phenomenon we live with in the modern world is technology. This was not an issue for our parents and every generation before them but it’s ruining our sleeping patterns and health. We are the “Tired and Wired” generation. Blue light from any screen will raise cortisol (bad for sleep) and surprise melatonin (bad for sleep). Reading your phone or tablet immediately before bed is not a great idea if you have trouble with your sleep - in fact there aren’t many worse things you can do.
Create a bedtime ritual which doesn’t involve technology. Read a book with a candle or dim light, take a shower or bath, get into bed with your partner and reconnect with each other. There’s a chance you may even get lucky!
About the author
Nathan specialises in Strength training, Kettlebells and has a keen interest in corrective strategies and mobility work for everyday workers, ex-athletes and sports people looking to continue their physical training whilst staying pain-free for the rest of their lives.