We need sleep. It’s the time when our hormone levels stabilize, our cells divide (for good immune function), our muscles and tissues repair and our brains and toxins can be cleared of waste.
And although every single one of us knows that 8 hours of sleep is the rule, it’s rare that any of us hit that! In fact, most Americans get less than 6 hours per night.
But just one night of no sleep or poor quality sleep makes you:
- More likely to overeat and turn to sweet, fatty and high calorie foods instead of ‘healthy’ choices. Hello weight gain.
- Less active during the entire day – making you groggy at unproductive at work.
- More likely to give into risky or dangerous temptations – not something we want to chance on a tired and unclear mind.
- And you have slower problem solving and cognition – some studies show up to 50% slower after just one sleepless night.
And those don’t even include the long term health effects like gaining fat, chronic inflammation, and increased risk for diseases.
In short – we need sleep.
But it’s the reason we don’t get enough isn’t always jut about lack of time. Sometimes it’s that we just don’t get the good quality we need.
So instead demanding you set aside 8 hours every night to rest, I want to give you something more practical.
11 Super Quick Tips to Improve your QUALITY of Sleep
– regardless of how many hours you are sleeping.
1. Get into a Routine:
Go to bed around the same time each night. Your body starts to learn to unwind at the same time and makes it easier to fall asleep faster.
2. Avoid Caffeine within 4 Hours of Bed
Caffeine shortens your sleep Phases 3 and 4 – where REM and dreaming happen. These are the critical stages for rest and recovery and if you’re on caffeine, you wont get much time here.
3. Same Goes for Alcohol
Alcohol can make you feel sleepy, researchers found it’s actually damaging to your sleep quality. Alcohol before bed results in choppy, restless sleep where you are unlikely to hit even REM.
4. Keep Your Room Cool
The sweet spot for improved sleep quality is between 60 – 75 degrees. The cooler temperature helps match your natural circadian rhythm to help your body know when it’s time to relax.
5. Get a Better Alarm Clock
Most alarm clocks have bright blue lights for the numbers. They might be easy to read in the dark, but that blue hue actually decreases your melatonin levels. And since melatonin is our sleep hormone, we need that!
6. Better Yet, Blackout Your Entire Room
Nix the lit alarm clock and any other light that comes into your sleep space. Your brain can sense light through closed eyelids and even while asleep. So even if you’re trying to sleep, the faintest amount of light can signal your brain that it’s not time to rest.
7. Keep Evening Meals Light
Insulin isn’t just about your fat stores – it also controls our sleep quality. When we eat, we release insulin to help get the food compounds out of the bloodstream. As our insulin level decrease at night (once we’re done with dinner), our leptin levels can start increases. Leptin is what tells our brain we’re NOT hungry and allows your body to rest throughout the night without waking in search of food. If your insulin levels stay high from late night snacking, your leptin stays low and you’re body will have trouble staying asleep (and you might end up waking up for a midnight snack).
8. Disconnect from Electronics
The light emitted from most electronics (as well as the wavelengths) can interfere with your natural circadian rhythm. Having your phone with you in bed can trick your brain into think it’s not actually time to rest. Disconnect at least 2 hours before you want to sleep.
9. Get More Magnesium
Magnesium can act as a natural muscle relaxant. It helps move the calcium out of your muscles and into the bloodstream where it can be mobilized and used elsewhere. Relaxed muscles means you have an easier time falling asleep and sleep better throughout the night.
10. Exercise regularly
Researchers found that if you exercise at any point in the day, you can set yourself up for sleep with better quality.
11. Keep Things Quiet, But Not Too Quiet
Even while asleep, our brains stay on semi-alter – that way if we need rise quickly in an emergency, we can. That means we’re sensitive to sound. Having a quiet room can allow your brain to relax more, but having it too quiet could make things worse. Researchers found the best quality sleep for most happens with white noise in the background – a whirring fan or a white noise machine.
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