Good quality sleep is by far the most underrated aspect of health.
When we get a good nights sleep we…
- improve concentration
- perform better throughout the day
- are more likely to lose fat
- reduce the chances of Cancer, type 2 Diabetes, Dementia and Alzheimers disease
- delay the ageing process
- regulate our emotions
- improve libido
- digest food more efficiently
Need I say anymore?
Literally everything (ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!) is better after a good nights sleep.
The trouble is that most adults are chronically sleep deprived. Things like coffee, tea, and energy drinks help us get through the day, but they negatively affect our sleep too!
We wake up groggy, tired, stressed… so then we use caffeine to give us a boost. It’s a vicious cycle and one which is seriously impacting your health in ways that you may not always realise.
Add into the mix artificial light, like TV’s and phone screens and we create an environment which is very difficult for our bodies to switch off and go into a deep sleep.
Back In Time…
Before we dive into some tips to help you get the best nights sleep you’ve had in 10 years let’s briefly go back in time…
As time has gone on the overall quality of sleep for the human race has continued to decline. Back in time – before the light bulb was invented, and long before TV’s, phones and Red Bulls (lol!) our bodies would switch off naturally and sleep was easy to obtain.
Our bodies have what’s called a circadian rhythm, a cycle basically which changes throughout the day as to when we are awake and energised and when we are tired and need to sleep.
Back in the olden days we would wake up naturally due to natural light (no alarm clocks or snoozing your Iphone!), then as the day went on the body would get increasingly tired and by night time the body could slowly unwind, before going into sleep.
As time has progressed we’ve altered this natural circadian rhythm through stimulants and artificial light. This explains why sometimes at night you don’t feel tired BUT in the mornings you feel knackered – it’s because you’ve altered you internal body clock (it’s like Jet Lag!) and the body is messed up.
If there’s one thing you need to focus on to improve your quality of life and health it’s SLEEP!
How to get the best nights sleep you’ve had in 10 years…
Here are 10 tips to help you get a better nights sleep. I can 100% guarantee that if you follow the tips to the letter… the quality of your life will dramatically improve. I’d even put money on it!
#1 Cut Out Caffeine
What cut out caffeine?!?! i reckon i’ve already lost half the readers of this post! lol
Those avid coffee drinkers out there will do anything to keep it into their daily routine.
I love a good coffee don’t get me wrong, I like the taste, how it makes me perform, basically everything! But it’s a catch 22 and the highs also come with the lows…in this case poorer quality sleep and ultimately worse off health!
I’d recommend cutting out caffeine completely and going cold turkey. You will feel dreadful (horrible!) for about a week, the more coffee you drink the worse your experience! but it will be worth it in the long run. Pick a week when you’re off work, I did mine at Christmas! when I could rest and detox.
If you really can’t live without caffeine then cut down to 1 cup a day and have it in the morning. Trust me that once your body get’s used to having zero (or less caffeine) the benefits it will have on not only sleep but overall health will be 100% worth it.
#2 Take Magnesium & Zinc
I’m a BIG fan of taking the supplements magnesium glycinate and zinc just before bed. Magnesium is great for helping the muscles relax, and zinc will help the body heal and repair. You can read more on the benefits of magnesium here – Magnesium: The Definitive Guide. I like to to take 4 capsules of magnesium glycinate (500mg) and 1 zinc tablet (30mg) 1-2 hours before bed p.s. this works for me, but please check with your doctor before taking any sleep supplements.
#3 Create A Dark Bedroom Cave
The darker our bedrooms the better. We need to create a blacked out cave! If you can i’d recommend investing in good quality and properly fitted black out blinds. You could also invest in a good quality sleeping mask. The darker your bedroom the better.
I would also recommend turning off (or down) the lights in your house 1-2 hours before bed. I like to use low level lighting, such as lamps and candles before bed. Simple tricks like this can make a BIG difference to the nights sleep you have.
#4 Cultivate a sleep routine
Babies often have a strict routine when it comes to sleep. I know with my little boy Noah (who’s nearly 2 years old) he has a bath at 6.30pm, followed by a bedtime story 6.45pm, followed by going to bed at 7pm. This happens 7 days a week.
Why though as adults do we mix and match our sleep routine? On Friday we go to bed at 1pm, but on Sunday we try and get an early night (10pm) before the working week starts!
Sorry but most people won’t just be able to go to sleep at the drop of a hat. You need to create a routine and be consistent 7 days a week. It’s much better to go to bed at 11pm and wake up at 7am x 7 days a week than it is to keep changing your routine. Go back to being a baby with a sleep routine.
#5 Get 8 Hours Sleep
“Well that’s easier said than done Nick?” If you struggle to get 8 hours sleep per night then you can train your body to get there.
For example say you normally only sleep 6 hours, even if you wake up after 6 hours, force yourself to stay in bed for an extra half and hour before getting up. Even if you’re not a sleep, stay in bed. Don’t go on your phone and just lie there and chill. If necessary try meditation to help you relax, something like Calm or Headspace. You need at least 7 hours (ideally 8) to get the full health benefits of a good nights sleep.
A quality mattress will help you get comfortable and doze off sooner, ideally you should look for a medium to firm mattress that will support your weight and relieve pain from pressure points. I’d recommend an organic mattress to avoid the highly toxic chemical fire retardants and petroleum-based foams included in generic products. These give off chemical odours over time and actually damage your health.
#6 Wear socks in bed
No this is not an old wives tale! By wearing a pair of comfy socks in bed you’ll be able to better regulate body temperature. Ideally you don’t want the bedroom to be too hot or too cold. If you wriggle around at night and move your feet in and out of bed, or expose them out of the covers, it can alter your body temperature and wake you up. Wear some comfy socks and just watch your sleep improve!
#7 Sleep With A Fan On
My wife Sally hates me sleeping with a fan on…
“it’s frickin freezing she always says!”. I’ve had abuse for years about it! lol!
Our body temperature needs to drop before we fall to sleep, having a cold blowing fan on you will do this. The other reason is that it blocks out noise in the night which may wake us up.
Ok it does cost a bit of money on the electricity bill! but it’s worth it. Get that fan on! Sorry Sally but it’s staying!
#8 Switch Off Your Phone & E-mails
I used to always be on my phone before bed, looking at social media, checking e-mails, etc. BUT the blue light emitted from these devices will prevent you from having a good nights sleep.
If you get a work e-mail late at night it may stress you out, stress will stop us from falling to sleep. You need to switch all of this off 2-3 hours before bed. You need to give yourself time unwind.
I also encourage you to use the ‘night mode’ on your iPhone to dampen down the light emitted from your smart phone. I have mine on from 7pm until 8am each day.
#9 Reduce TV Light
There are two ways to do this, one is by not watching TV!
“Well Nick, what else could I do instead?”
How about reading a book or doing something that doesn’t numb your mind? I’m all for Netflix and TV but don’t use it every night. I like to use it as a treat on the weekends, but I try not to watch TV during the week.
You could also invest in some Blue Light Blocking Glasses – here’s my 4 week experience wearing blue light blocking glasses – I would 100% recommend buying some if you are happy to spend the cash.
#10 Take A Hot Bath
Like I said earlier with the fan (cooling down body temperature) a bath will do the same. It will initially raise body temperature when you’re in the bath, but then as soon as you get out it will drop.
Our body temperature needs to drop by 1 degree in order to fall to sleep, so this is a great way to put your body into sleep mode.
The warm bath will also help to relax muscles and provide an overall calming effect on both the mind and body (perfect for sleep).
I like to have a bath in the dark (call me a weirdo! lol!) but I like to just sit in a warm bath, with my eyes closed and just chill for 30 minutes. I then dry off and roll straight into bed…and…BOOM…i’m out for the count!
The Ultimate Sleep Routine : putting it all together…
Ok, so thanks for all the tips Nick! BUT how the heck can we put all of this together?
Ok, so here’s what i’d recommend in a nutshell…
- cut out caffeine (just grim and bear it for a week!)
- order a sleep mask and start wearing it in bed
- order some ‘light blocking glasses’ and wear them in the evening
- 2 hours before bed switch off your phone and e-mails
- 1 hour before bed take a bath and take some magnesium and zinc
- Just before getting into bed put on some comfy socks, put a fan on and have it facing your body (not your face!)
Did you find this post helpful? if so please leave your comment below.
Good luck trying out the above, and please let me know how you get on…