Warrior Health: 5 Habits for a Better Night's Sleep by Kieran Glennon

by Chris Albert October 24, 2015

 

One thing that many of us can use help with is getting better sleep.  We're hardly the experts here at Warrior Soul.  Hell, either of us hardly get any sleep.  So we contacted our friend, sleep expert Kieran Glennon of SleepyHabits.com to give you the low down on how to get better sleep.  Enjoy!

 

Having a great workout, eating the right foods and pushing beyond our

limits, each and every day. It is definitely worth striving for. The sense of

euphoria, pride and achievement we feel when we live a better, healthier

and more fulfilling life is amazing.

 

However, it is during the deep, restorative stages of sleep where we

regain the energy we need to go about our daily activities, in tackling

and achieving our goals – to be the best we can possibly be.

 

Sleep is also something we cannot avoid and shouldn’t be taken light-

heartedly. It’s a natural state our body requires to boost our hormone

function, allowing for the repair and growth of muscle tissue as well as

ensuring our mind works at it's optimal level.

 

Could your current sleep patterns be inhibiting your ability to hit your

current goals?

 

Whether you feel that your sleep is good or bad, I want to share with you

some tips and habits you may want to consider to ensure you are getting

the best quality sleep possible to enable you to live the live you want to

lead!

1 Get a regular schedule (sleep and wake time)

All of us come built with a natural sleep-wake cycle (also know as a

circadian rhythm) where our body knows when to wake up and go to

bed, via the processes of sunrise and sunset. 

We do, however, constantly mess with this natural cycle by staying up

later in the evening than needed, using pick-me-ups such as caffeine

and stimulating our mind with social media, answering work e-mails and

watching TV. A regular sleep-wake cycle will make you feel much more

refreshed and energized and most importantly, effectively repair and

grow muscle tissue.


Everybody's cycle is different. To figure out yours, try experimenting with

going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day, without an

alarm clock, to see how your cycle is. This may take a few weeks, but if

you persist, you will feel like you have a lot more energy when you’re

awake and will rest better when you sleep.

 
2 Don’t exercise too close to bedtime


Throughout the day, our body temperature naturally goes up and

naturally decreases at night. Decreasing body temperature is the trigger

to the body that it is time to sleep. The cooling down process naturally

secretes a hormone called melatonin, which is a sleep inducing

hormone. It is also secreted naturally when it is dark outside.

Exercise (and particularly intense exercise) can temporarily raise our

body temperatures whilst also stimulating our muscles, brain and heart.

This is the exact opposite of the state we want to be in as we unwind

prior to sleep.

So when is the best time to exercise?

With my daily commitments, I prefer the morning. It also helps me in

relieving stress and puts me in a good mood. To get additional benefits

linked to sleep, I also try to get some outdoor natural light exposure early

in the day in tandem with my exercise, as it further enhances my body’s

sleep-wake cycle and sends my body into a better sleep state come the

time I go to sleep later in the day.

However, with all factors considered from a sleep perspective, afternoon

appears to be best. That is because after the temporary raise in body

temperature, there is still enough time to allow it to natural start to

decrease a few hours before bed. The afternoon, for most people, is

also when the body temperature is at their warmest, which means a

decreased risk of injury and better muscle performance when working

out. 

If you aren't getting the best quality sleep (or want to get even better

sleep) and are working out in the evening, consider shifting to another

time of the day. Alternatively, switch to more relaxing workout choices in

the evening such as stretching and yoga, as both bring great benefits in

getting a good nights sleep.



3 Cut-out (or limit) alcohol intake in the evening

I've had many evenings where after having a few drinks, I can get to

sleep really quickly.  However, as the alcohol starts to wear off, I start to

feel restless and often wake up. This is because the body can come out

of deep sleep and back into REM sleep, which a shallower stage of

sleep that is much easier to wake from. That's why you often wake up

after just a few hours sleep when you've been drinking. Remember,

deep sleep is the area you want to be heading into to get the natural

growth hormone to repair and grow your muscle.


Alcohol also decreases the muscle tone in the upper airway, meaning

that breathing-related sleep issues are increased after you have had a

couple of drinks. People who regularly snore will typically stop breathing

more frequently and for longer periods of time, after having a few drinks

prior to sleep.

To help nullify the effects of the alcohol faster, more water will need to

be consumed to help flush out the metabolic waste products left behind.

As a tip, when you are drinking, consider having a glass of water after

each alcoholic beverage. You need to be careful here. Too much liquid

close to bedtime will mean you’ll be spending a lot of time in the

bathroom during the night.


4 Be ‘cool’ in the bedroom

As much as the thought of getting into a warm, cozy bed is very

appealing, a ‘cool’ room mimics the natural drop in body temperature

that happens when you sleep. When it's time for your body to rest, there

is an automatic drop in your core body temperature to help initiate sleep.

If the temperature in the bedroom environment is too high, then it can be

a challenge for your body to get itself in a state for good quality sleep.



Try setting the temperature in your room between 60-72F (16C – 22C) to

avoid sweating at night, which can wake you up. Anything colder will

most likely cause you to get the chills, which is certainly not pleasant,

and won’t get you feeling sleepy!

 

If you are not able to use air conditioning or heating in your room,

consider experimenting with lighter bedsheets, wearing lighter sleep

clothes (or underwear) or to really cool off – go naked!

5 Turn electronic devices off in the bedroom

 Whether it’s responding to e-mail, watching TV, web or playing a video

game, looking at electronic devices close to bedtime tricks your brain to

misread the light generated as ‘daylight’ and stops you from getting into

a sleep state. 

 
There are other physiological reactions, such as creating stress in our

body, via the tension caused in watching a traumatic event on the

television or responding to a stressful e-mail. 

 
To over come this, start by implementing a ‘technology curfew’, 15-30

minutes before you go to bed. No television, no Internet, no

smartphones, no video games.

 
If you can stretch this period out beyond 30 minutes, even better.

 
Replace that time with less-stimulating activities, for both the body and

mind, such as doing some light stretching, writing a gratitude journal or

reading a light-fiction book. You will drift off and remain asleep much

longer.

 
There are many more things you can implement into your sleep

routine to get the best quality sleep possible. I hope you have taken

some inspiration from this and would love it if you were to leave a

comment below as to what worked for you.

For more habits related to getting a better night sleep, please visit

www.sleepyhabits.com.  

 

Kieran Glennon of www.sleepyhabits.com




Chris Albert
Chris Albert

Author



Leave a comment