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Good sleep is crucial for good health - how to improve sleep.

Updated: Feb 6

Make good sleep a priority. Your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing will thank you.

This was not a planned article, well I do have a plan on what I want to write each week. A trainee reached out before our scheduled weekly session complaining of being unable to sleep well although she is exercising and eating well. Must tell you, she has come a long way in a short period of time and can't wait to see her transformation. This article is an outcome of our conversation. My trainees and I have heart to heart talks sometimes.

That old saying about early to bed and early to rise still stands the test of time. We’re meant to go to sleep when it gets dark, and to wake when it gets light.

Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. 7hours should be your baseline.

If you know you have to wake at 5:15am to get ready for work or workout, then you should be in bed by 9:30pm and asleep by 10pm. Getting in bed at 10:15pm doesn’t mean anything. You cannot carry forward sleep.

Also factor in transition time. Don’t expect to get into bed at 9:55pm and asleep by 10:00pm. You need to start moving in the direction of bed, follow the bed time routines that work for you.

Think about good sleep as a 24-hour process. What you do during your waking period will affect your sleeping period, and vice versa.

Good sleep helps our bodies and minds recover, keeping us lean, happy, mentally focused, and healthy.

But chronically bad sleep:

  • makes it harder to get and stay lean;

  • makes it harder to gain and keep muscle and other lean mass;

  • causes hormone imbalance;

  • ages us faster;

  • increases our risk of chronic illness;

  • drains our IQ; and

  • kills our mojo.

Reinforce your natural circadian needs. What does that mean? When it’s supposed to be dark and quiet, make things really dark and quiet. When it’s supposed to be bright, noisy, and stimulating, get moving with some bright light.

  • Keep a regular schedule

Our bodies like regularity. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and night. Start with five out of seven days a week. Social life, young children or care giving may not make it possible all the time.

  • Keep alcohol and caffeine moderate

Restful and restorative sleep comes from deep sleep.

More than 1-2 drinks in the evening can interfere with deep sleep, as can too much caffeine. Limit alcohol amounts, and reduce caffeine after 3 pm. You may sleep with an overdose of alcohol but won't be high quality or give you recovery benefits.

  • Eat and drink in moderation

Having a large meal immediately before bed can disrupt your ability to fall and stay asleep. Instead, eat a small-sized meal a few hours before bedtime.

A freshly made balanced meal of protein, carbs and fats will help to keep you satiated, and might even improve your ability to fall asleep as your brain converts carbs to serotonin.

In addition, try to limit your fluids 2-3 hours before bedtime. Drinking too much water or milk before bed can result in frequent waking for bathroom breaks. Uninterrupted sleep is more important than long hours.

  • Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly helps normalize circadian rhythms, tone down the sympathetic nervous system, and regulate endocrine function.

However, intense exercise , weights or interval workout in the evening can make it tougher to get to sleep.

  • Do a brain dump

What is a “brain dump”? Clearing your mind for genuine relaxation.

Instead of obsessing about all the things we’re supposed to do tomorrow, tossing and turning, take a few minutes to write out a list of whatever is bothering you: emails to be replied, bills to be paid, ideas to be executed and so on. A line of gratitude for the day helps too. Whatever is in your brain, get it out on a paper.

  • Turn off electronics

The light, noise of devices stimulate our brain.

Unplug from all screens — TVs, computers, phones, tablets — at least 30 minutes before bed. Our brain produces melatonin as light levels decrease. If we have too much light at night, we don’t get proper melatonin production. Melatonin ensures deep sleep, and may also help regulate our metabolism.

  • Sleep-before-midnight

Every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after the clock strikes twelve.

Optimizing your sleep environment.

In addition to creating a nightly sleep routine, to help improve your sleep quality and duration.

  • Create your own bedtime ritual

A few small adjustments can make a big difference here.

This could include:

  • Gentle movement — stretching or yoga, or even a slow stroll works wonders. Even 5-15 minutes can release tension and activate calm-down chemicals. Meditation, if that's your choice

  • Reading before bed —light reading and not too engaging, otherwise you’ll be tempted to stay up to complete a thrilling detective novel

  • Relaxation - Meditation, deep breathing works

  • Take a bath - Warm water bath before bed helps us to relax, a key to falling asleep. You can also choose to soak your feet in warm water with - Epsom salt.

  • Limit light exposure - Making your room as dark as possible will maximize your melatonin production. Cover your windows well. Use dim lights at night.

  • Clutter free your bedroom - Create a relaxing sleep area that is quiet and free of clutter. Your bedroom should be organized and peaceful. Pile of clothes, things scattered all over the floor make you feel stressed and unable to relax.

  • Room Temperature - Too cold or too hot or too humid or too dry won't allow you to relax. Airy, well ventilated room calms you down.

Bodies love routines and consistency. If your body knows what to expect in your day, it’ll help you wake up and doze off at the right time. Stick to a routine!

You can’t control your actual sleep. But you can control your sleep behaviours and environment. Take charge of your actions and surroundings, be consistent, and sleep like a baby.

Our session went well & I hope my trainee comes back soon to say, I slept like a baby - long peaceful sleep, well-rested only to wake up fresh.

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