Have you been feeling groggy and unrested, which leads to an unproductive day at work? There are several things you can easily do to improve your current sleep, even if you don’t feel like you’re having trouble sleeping. Here are some of the most basic, yet critical hacks from Bulletproof that will help you upgrade both the quality and quantity of sleep that you get in a night.
#1 Sleep in a pitch-black room
Light makes you alert, even subconsciously, so make your room as dark as you possibly can. Block out as many light sources as you can, whether it’s using blinds or a curtain or just pinning up fabric where needed. If you live in a city, blackout curtains are great as they don’t allow in all the light pollution from outside.
#2 Wind down at least two hours before bed
Try to go to bed by 11pm when possible because your body creates a cortisol surge after that time to keep you awake. Apart from that, you should also minimise bright lighting around you during the night, as well as eliminating, or at least dimming down computer and TV screens.
If you need to work late, lower down the brightness of your phone screen as much as you can and use a program such as f.lux to get rid of that blue glow from your computer screen, which has been known to disrupt your natural melatonin production.
#3 Stop drinking caffeine a few hours before sleep
Although many of us rely on that shot of caffeine to function during the day, research shows that caffeine will not only keep you awake, but also disrupts your internal body clock. It blocks the sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increases adrenaline production.Some studies also suggest that consuming caffeine before sleep could also cause a jet lag-style sluggishness during daylight hours. This may not necessarily apply to everyone.
#4 Don’t exercise within 2 hours of bedtime
Unless it’s a relaxing sport like yoga, try to avoid intense exercise 2 hours before bedtime. Again, this may not apply to everyone. First of all, intense workouts will affect your body’s core temperature, which is perfectly normal and healthy. However, in some cases, your body temperature can even go as high as 40 ºC, which will interfere your sleep.
However, rest and hydration will help bring your body temperature back down to normal and it takes about 4 to 5 hours for your body to return to its resting temperature. If you think that this is the reason why you are awake, try to do some cool down exercises like stretching or taking a short cold shower before you jump into bed.
#5 If you wake up mid-slumber, get out of bed
We are sure that many us have experienced this before – you get up in the middle of the night and you’re wide awake. If you’re awake for more than 15 minutes, go to another room and do something that isn’t strenuous like listening to soothing music or reading. When you start feeling sleepy again, go back to bed. If you do the opposite and try forcing yourself to sleep, that will set off a subconscious worry cycle that will keep you awake.
Another thing you should avoid doing is checking the time when you suddenly jolt awake. This will take you out of the sleep centre of the brain and into the more alert centre of the brain as you can’t help but work out how much sleep you’re losing. You can also try this breathing exercise to help you get back to sleep.
#6 Keep a sleep journal
Keep a record of your sleep patterns and other habits that may affect your sleep time. For instance, write down how often you wake up during the night, what disturbed your sleep, and how much caffeine or alcohol you had before you descend into slumber. This will help you to identify the problems that cause you to be tossing and turning and plan a strategy to get more quality sleep. Also, if it gets severe, you can bring this journal with you when you consult with your doctor.
Getting enough good sleep is one of the keys to healthy lifestyle and making the best out of your hours spent at work the next day. So the next time you’re feeling sluggish, try relying on more than just the numerous cups of coffee and try hacking your sleep instead.