My previous blog, stay on top of your game with a good night’s sleep, looked at the importance of sleep and how this directly impacts our performance levels.
Here are 6 great habits to get into, including some bad ones to break, to ensure you wake up fully energised and refreshed from a good night’s sleep.
1. Make your bedroom a Technology Free Zone
One of the worst habits that many of us have is checking our phones and other devices, just before we go to sleep. In fact, on a course that I recently ran, one lady even admitted to checking for emails in the middle of the night!
If this is you, you are not only stimulating your brain, but the blue light from your devices inhibits the sleep hormone melatonin. Fix a time in the evening, say 9pm, for the last occasion you check your devices for emails and social media etc. Leave them overnight in another room in the house, to take away the temptation of one last peek on email. If like the Apple devices, you can turn off the blue light, do so, early on in the evening.
2. Brain Dump to calm the internal chatter
Do you struggle to get off to sleep with a brain full of thoughts, concerns and ideas? Do you have no problem getting off to sleep, but come 3am, you are wide awake, or do you just generally not feel refreshed from your sleep?
A great strategy to quieten the mind, is to write down everything we are thinking about, just before we go off to sleep. This ‘Brain Dump’ is very much like an internal chatter download.
At the same time, by keeping a pen and paper beside your bed, you can capture any thoughts and actions for the next day that occur to you whilst brain dumping or that crop up in the middle of the night.
3. Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine and other stimulants in the 4 hours before sleep
For most people Caffeine found in tea, coffee, some fizzy drinks and chocolate as well as other stimulants like Nicotine make it difficult for us to fall asleep. Not only that, they mean we sleep lighter and have more of a disrupted sleep.
Although alcohol may help us feel sleepy and fall asleep quicker, it acts as a delayed stimulant, disturbing our sleep later on through the night. Daytime grogginess, poor concentration and memory as well as lower performance are all the result of a reduction in the amount of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep we get, caused by alcohol, inhibiting brain recovery and restoration.
4. Help your Body Clock to help you
Sticking to the same sleep time and wake time even at weekends, helps us regulate our body clock and therefore be more likely to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Many people believe in the words of Benjamin Franklin “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Certainly for most (not all) the morning is an incredibly productive time, not to be wasted.
If your work sees you travelling across time zones, then of course your body clock will be disturbed. Although you can’t avoid jet lag altogether, frequent travelers will have their own rituals of getting into the new time zones. To establish a new routine as quickly as you can, try eating and sleeping at the correct time for your new time zone and try and avoid taking a nap. Plus get as much of the natural day light as you can to help your body adjust quickly and remember to stay hydrated.
5. Make the hour before sleep a relaxing one
Parents know the importance of getting their children into a bedtime routine and that a child out of routine, can be a grumpy one the next day.
The truth is we could all do with a relaxing bedtime routine, a chance to wind down before we drift off into a deep refreshing sleep. Try a hot bath, do some yoga, meditation and even some stretches and make sure your bedroom is a haven for sleep – cool (but not cold) and dark.
6. Try a Guided Meditation for Deep Sleep
To calm and quieten the mind from thinking about our busy lives and to help us get the benefits of a deep restorative sleep, try a guided meditation for deep sleep, such as ours. Remember if you sleep well, you are more likely to be on top of your game through the week.