As personal fitness trainers in Manchester city centre we come across a lot of people who struggle to sleep well or enough. Here are some top tips on how to sleep better.
Firstly we must ask, what is stopping us from sleeping well? Do we know why we are not sleeping well or enough, or not?
If you are simply under sleeping, then its simply a case of priorities, people who under sleep usually, just don’t know what they are missing out on. Better energy, better recovery, better eating habits, better sex drive and better gym results to name just a few. So if your under sleeping simply due to lack of prioritisation, then we highly recommend you start to prioritise your sleep. Aim to hit at least eight hours every night and see what a profound effect it has on your life in and out of the gym. Weight loss and muscle building are both far harder than they should be, as is being productive at work when you are running on insufficient sleep.
When people could sleep enough, but struggle to sleep well, the most common cause is incorrect light exposure. Too much at night and not enough in the morning. We should operate around a natural cycle called the circadian rhythm, basically when its light we should be awake and when its dark we should be asleep. Unfortunately one of the disadvantages of modern technology is that we can potentially be exposed to light at all hours of the day. This is terribly confusing for our bodies as light is an indicator thats its daytime. Know someone who cant sleep at night, but are on there phone or laptop just before bed? Basically if you expose your eyes to light at nighttime your sleep will be negatively affected. In addition if we do not receive light exposure in the morning (preferably sun light) then the body will not know its supposed to be properly awake. Therefor a conscience effort to get sunlight in the morning and avoid artificial light at night is the answer for most peoples sleep problems.
Now, lets talk specifically to the stress heads out there, who lay in their bed at night with a 100 or so thoughts dashing around their brains that stop them from sleeping well. Whatever you are stressing about, Is it “really” worth stressing about? Sometimes when we are in the problem, it seems bigger than it is, try stepping out of the issue and see it from a birds eye view, once we know the facts we can start to make a plan of action to fix it. Have you put it into proper perspective? How does this affect the bigger picture, is it such a big deal? Have you looked at all the potential solutions and seeked experts who can help fix the issue, if you can’t? Your not going to solve a problem while rolling about in bed, so just tell yourself you’ll find a solution tomorrow and that nothings as bad as it first seems.
Next, Caffeine and alcohol are major sleep disruptors, high amounts of caffeine and sometimes small amounts depending on the person will keep you stimulated which will make falling asleep harder and will wake you up in the middle of the night easier. Alcohol does make some people dose off easier, but it basically just sedates us putting us into a light sleep that we will probably wake up from in the night resulting in feeling less rested.
Low blood sugar in the middle of the night could be another reason why you wake up in the night, as your body is now wanting sugar to bring it back to normal levels. Simple answer to this is don’t eat a massive meal that massively spikes blood sugar before bed.
There’s other reasons why you may wake up in the night, but these are the most common.
Sleep is basically the foundation of good health, so we can agree its worth putting some effort into fixing a poor sleeping pattern. so here are our top tips that may require a little effort.
- Teach the body to sleep and wake up when its supposed to, by following the circadian rhythm (the natural biological cloak that follows the light / dark cycle), by going to bed on time and getting up early and sticking to the same times everyday. This alone could be all you need to do if your going to bed and waking up at different times everyday.
- Protect your sleeping routine by stopping sleep blockers, like working late, eating too late or watching that next episode on net flicks.
- Start getting ready for bed at least 1 hour before bed, this would include things like turning off or stopping using electronics like laptops and phones, (let people know they can only contact you by email unless absolutely urgent after 9pm and that you will reply in the morning. Ensure they understand what urgent means, if it can be done tomorrow its not urgent.) The light coming out of electronics can stimulate your eyes and make your brain think its still day time, not sleeping time.
- Drinking some calming tea like camomile can be a great way to increase relaxation as can a hot bath or shower.
- Setting your room up for sleep is a big one, if there is gaps in your curtains and light can seep through this will affect your sleep, a torch behind your knee cap would affect sleep, so just trust us and get black out curtains or blinds.
- Stop drinking caffeine after 2pm and keep below 3 cups a day.
- Avoid alcohol wherever possible.
- Eat a nutritious well balanced meal 2-3 hours before bed. Eating processed foods or foods high in sugar may negatively affect sleep. Choose a protein source, a good fat source, a slow digesting carb and some vegetables or a salad and blood sugar should be fine until the morning.
- Do some exercise daily, as using your energy up their will make you feel more ready for bed, however do not train too late in the evening as the increase in adrenaline will negatively affect sleep.
- If you are mentally stimulated from work or from another source of stress, learning how to mediate or at the very least do deep breathing will help somewhat with this. If it cannot, maybe its time to get a new job, relationship or whatever else is stressing you out is probably best eliminated from your life.
If you would like to delve deeper into more advanced strategies, get in contact with us to book a sit down consultation.