You probably know this by now but your sleep is extremely important. It helps to perform functions such as repairing body tissue, adapting to stressors, recovery in general and restoring your body to handle tomorrows struggles. In this article, I talk about 5 healthy sleep habits.
If you don’t look after your sleep hygiene this will result in higher cortisol levels (which is the stress hormone). And higher rates of muscle loss especially when trying to lose weight. But these bad consequences can be avoided if you just put in place some habits so that you can get a good nights sleep.
This article will be split in to 5 different segments providing sleep habits I deem to be of the most importance to everyone. These all play a part in helping me fall a sleep and they will to you to.
- What is the circadian rhythm and how does it apply to your sleep.
- Limiting as much light into your room as possible to enhance your sleep.
- Reducing blue light to enhance your sleep and how it relates to the circadian rhythm.
- The benefits of relaxing and winding down to enhance your sleep and put an end to a racing mind.
- Avoid caffeine before bed at least 6+ hours to enhance sleep.
- Getting some vitamin D cough* I mean sunlight to enhance your sleep and to reset your circadian rhythm.
How The Circadian Rhythm Helps You Sleep (Your Natural Body Clock)
The circadian rhythm which is in the image presented above is your bodies natural biological clock. Since the beginning of evolution our body has had the inclination to respond to this clock.
The circadian rhythm is a biological clock that our body uses for hormonal responses. look to the picture above to see the hormonal responses at different times.
When your circadian rhythm is in sync with the correct time of day this results in easy sleeping and easy rising.
A good way to reset the circadian rhythm is simply to go outside in the sunlight for 5 minutes or more on a morning when you wake up. It’s good practice to go on a short/long daily walk.
When your body is out of sync with the circadian rhythm your body clock doesn’t know wether its night or day.
Hormones such as ghrelin and leptin (hunger hormones) are affected meaning that if your sleep quality is bad and out of sync with it’s natural hormonal responses. You are out of intuition with your bodies appetite thus resulting in eating more or less calories.
For more information on how the circadian rhythm works and the small nuances that it entails I advise you to check out Ben Greenfields book beyond training to go into more depth.
1. Limit As Much Bright Light As Possible From Your Room To Enhance Sleep Quality – Healthy Sleep Habits
In modern day life its extremely easy to go against your natural body clock. When we have computers, phones , tablets and bright lights it’s extremely easy to see blue light everywhere and to disturb our natural body clock.
In hunter gatherer times we didn’t have all this unnatural lighting. Now that we do it completely disturbs our production of an important hormone that you may of heard of before. This hormone is called melatonin.
Melatonin is a sleep hormone that your body produces that makes you become tired and helps get you off to sleep. When bright lights are constantly surrounding us In our room and environments it can be hard to use and produce this vital hormone.
This is why it’s extremely important for your sleep to reduce bright lights before bed such as computers, Tv’s , iPads and anything along these lines. Alternatively you can use blue light blockers.
There is also a setting on Macs and iPhones called nightshift mode. This changes the light from bright blue light to a softer warmer light which is much easier on your eyes.
On android appliances you can download an app called flux this does the same thing.
So you’ve reduced light in your room and your getting an absolute minimal amount of blue light.
Next you should either wear a sleep mask or make your room as dark as possible. This results in a better quality sleep and keeps your melatonin hormone perpetuating through the night.
2. Do Something Relaxing Before Bed To Help You Quell A Racing Mind – Healthy Sleep Habits
It’s 12pm you’re still awake in bed and you just can’t stop thinking you try to go to sleep but you can’t. You think to yourself “why can’t I get to sleep” over and over again and just this thought frustrates you and keeps you up. Especially if you need to be up early if this is the case their tends to be more stress.
To stop this I’ve noticed that reading a hardback book like fiction. Albeit any book that is quite a nice easy relaxing read. I’ve noticed that if you try to engage in a topic that is quite complex late at night and try to understand and think deeply this isn’t relaxing and can actually keep you up at night.
Some Ways To Help Wind Down And Reduce Stress For A Fantastic Sleep
- Meditation or a form of deep breathing like Wim hoffs practice.
This is a great way to just watch your mind and thoughts and take a step back. Just focusing on your breathing for 10 minutes and reaching this zen state is something that I feel is highly underrated for decreasing your stress levels and to calm a racing mind. There is something deeply satisfying about focusing on your breath, watching your mind and being completely immersed in the present moment. To learn more about this state of zen and presence I suggest that you read the power of now by Eckhart Tolle.
- Listening to relaxing music or brain.fm
Listening to relaxing music or brain fm can be extremely helpful in allowing yourself to wind down. Anything with a piano tends to relax me. Try different types of music. What works for me might not work for you.
- Drink some herbal/ chamomile tea. This will relax you and get you ready for a good nights sleep
Anecdotally this works great for me and I particularly like chamomile. Try it along side the other tactics in this article to help you to have a great night sleep.
- Have a high carb moderate protein low fat meal.
Studies have shown that this can give you a boost in melatonin ( the sleep hormone and help you to have a deeper sleep.)
Anecdotally I’ve experienced this. Think back to that Christmas dinner you had full of carbs. It’s common to feel tired after larger carbohydrate feeds, especially before bed.
- Do some stretching
Any type of stretching will do. This could be anything from traditional stretches like yoga to even doing some foam rolling. These will help you get into a relaxed state more quickly, and make for a more comfortable nights sleep.
3. Reduce Caffeine Before Bed – Healthy Sleep Habits
The common advice Is to limit caffeine to zero after 6pm. This advice sounds good because everyone knows caffeine is a stimulant and keeps you up. But caffeine has been found to have a half life of up to 12 hours. This is the amount of time it takes to clear half of the dose from your bloodstream. So personally I’ve found that I’m quite sensitive to caffeine so I’ll mostly just try to consume caffeine in the morning.
Generally speaking energy drinks contain the most caffeine followed by, coffee, traditional tea, and green tea you can also get caffeine in chocolate, Pepsi, and coke. These are just a few caffeine loaded foods and drinks. So just be aware. Especially before going to sleep.
And remember coffee , and tea have many antioxidants that can benefit you in many ways. So don’t completely abstain.
Be Aware Of Alcohol And Nicotine
Some people believe that alcohol can help you sleep it may seem that way. But once you’re asleep your susceptible to waking up in the night and having a lighter more poor quality sleep. You want to have a good quality sleep the whole way through the night.
Nicotine is actually a stimulant similar to caffeine so you don’t want to be having too much of this substance before bed. The research and literature is quite clear on the devastating effects of cigarettes so I’m not going to delve into that topic.
4.Sleep In A Quiet Room
If you’re like me and for the most part you’re an extremely light sleeper then I suggest getting a pair of ear plugs. Personally I use the ones below.
By using noise canceling ear plugs you’ll have a much deeper sleep. This is because when your asleep your brain still has to process sounds. Think back to hunter gatherer times when humans had to be aware of all sorts of predators. Fortunately now we don’t need to worry about that. We can now let our guards down get some noise cancelling ear plugs and get a good nights sleep. So that noise is reduced to the utmost degree.
5. Do Some Exercise It Can Be Anything From Weights, Cardio To Bodyweight Training, This Greatly Enhances Sleep
Everyone should be doing some form of bodyweight training or weight training to some extent in my opinion. One thing that I think people neglect though, is actually going outside and doing some exercises in the sun. It can be anything from walking to riding your bike.
As I said in the first section of this article sunlight can have a significant impact on your circadian rhythm helping you reset your natural body clock and have a wonderful sleep.
For some bodyweight routines I’d suggest reading my article below.
And for a solid weight training program download my free ebook on the link below
The Bottom Line On Healthy Sleep Habits
Sleep is extremely important to our health and well-being, mood, and memory.
As long as you focus on:
- Limiting as much bright light as possible
- Doing something relaxing before bed
- limiting caffeine intake 6-8+ hours before bed
- Sleeping in a quiet room
- Doing some exercise
You will sleep well.
I hope you’ve learnt some valuable healthy sleep habits.
Thank you for reading! If you want any help with your fitness goals don’t hesitate to email me at email@example.com