"5 more minutes"
That's what we usually say every night as we try to get something done.
But we know all to well that "5 minutes) turns into 30-90min or more. Whether we are watching TV, reading or working on a project
What if I said you could be more productive and be less groggy throughout the day.......
.....All you got to do is say "forget 5 minutes. I'm going to bed".
Our sleep rejuvenates our body from the daily physical and mental stress we endure, and allows our system to reset.
For people who regularly get more sleep ( >6 hours) show to have improved learning ability, reaction times, and mood. With decreases in blood pressure, resting heart rate, and stress.
Sounds pretty sweet right?
"How do I get started? I don't want to change my whole day around."
Below are some quick tips that you can easily implement to harness the power of sleep and can the benefits without feeling overwhelmed.
Quick tips to improve sleep habits
1. Dark Room/no TV
Before artificial light, we would wind down and fall asleep as the sun went down. The reason being is that the light from the sun (and artificial light) emits blue light. You may have seen those blue-light blocking glasses before. Well the blue light actually blocks our bodies production of melatonin (a natural sleep inducer). Even a small crack of light can stimulate the brain and cause us to be in a less than ideal resting state.
You will want to unplug all of your devices and any night lights in your room. That means the TV too. Also, if you don't have black out shades, simply tape the edges of your blinds to block light from outside peaking in. (Every little bit counts).
2. Drink water no later than 90 min before sleep time
Our bodies circadian rhythm, flows in 90 minute increments, so we want to start the winding down process 90 min before bed. Not drinking any water will allow you to get to the bathroom before sleep and prevent you from waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle during the night.
Same for eating, we don't want a meal 90 min before as digestion is not a sleep-friendly activity. If you are going to eat something, keep it to a light snack.
3. Have a routine
Tagging along with the last tip, we want to start to wind down 90 min before bed. That means move from heavily lit areas to darker areas. If you need to be in some light, I suggest investing in a cheap pair of blue light blocking glasses.
Try not to be doing any intense work 60 min before bed, It will only stimulate you further and keep you tossing an turning. Write down a to do list or check list so you can return back to your work refreshed in the morning.
Also, create a nightly routine. This may be 5-10 min prior to entering bed. This will keep you in rhythm and allow your body and mind to recognize it's time to get ready for bed. This way it becomes effortless.
4. Wake up at the same time every day
Waking up at the same time every day, (and ideally going to bed the same time) allows you to set a normal internal clock. You will be able to naturally get into a waking cycle with a regular wake time.
You should also pair a morning routine in, just like at night, so your body knows it is time to get going.
Some ideas may be a light stretch or walk for 5 min, review notes from the night before, and ease into more lit areas (ideally sunlight) to get the cycle going.
5. Nap time perfection 1-3pm.
If you are having one of those dragging days and you can squeeze in a nap. Aim for a 20-30min nap between 1-3pm. This is when our bodies need for sleep peaks during midday (you know that midday crash you always jump to a coffee for). It is natural occurrence and will give you a good boost to gain a second wind.
If you can't nap, try and get outside to some natural sunlight for 10 min as the sun will stimulate your body naturally to stay in a waking state.
These are some simple ways you can increase your bodies ability to recover and improve your overall daily production. Even if you do one of these, you will start to notice the difference in no time.
Dr. Peter Dionisopoulos is the owner and founder of Dynamic Performance & Rehab. He has worked with many high-level athletes and military personnel, but his true passion is to help active adults maintain their lifestyle by providing information and potential solutions to their aches and pains so they can continue with the activities they love.