Top three ways improve your sleep quality
I put together a list of my top 3 was to improve your sleep quality. Sleep is a great place to start when it comes to improving all aspects of health and fitness. Getting adequate rest has been shown to be one of the best tools for losing weight or gaining muscle. How great is that?! Best of all, most of the actionable items are easy to implement, low cost, or free, so let’s jump in!
The importance of sleep
Sleep is the perfect place to start your wellness journey! Everyone appreciates waking up feeling rested and ready for the day. When it comes to improving your overall health and wellness, it helps to start with the easy things first.
Sleep is the one aspect of health that will affect all other components, including nutrition. If you are sleep deprived, your blood sugar levels and hormones reflect a pre-diabetic state. Your cravings will be stronger and your ability to control them limited. No need for that!
During the first phase of sleep, your body will dedicate resources to help rebuild muscles from your workout or heal an injury. As the sleep cycle times change throughout the night, (less recovery, more REM) less and less time is spent in this repair phase.
Too little sleep will derail recovery and zap performance!
Create a dark bedroom
By reducing the amount of ambient light in your room, you can directly impact the quality of your sleep. By eliminating stray light sources from electronics, alarm clocks and windows, you can create a dark environment to instantly upgrade your sleep. Blackout curtains will eliminate the late night moon light or the early morning rays that can disrupt sleep.
Having an alarm clock with no LED readout will also keep your room dark. Traveling with a sleep mask will also allow you to create a dark space no matter where you go; it’s always a part of my travel bag!
By keeping your room temperature below 68 degrees, your body will produce more melatonin, which aides in sleep. You can even go a step further and purchase mattress cooling systems. Easier (and cheaper) solutions include taking a cold shower before bed to lower the core body temperature. The second option is tart cherry juice, which has been shown to drop core body temperature as well.
Those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) use blue light or “happy light” to stimulate hormones first thing in the morning. This boosts hormones and boost energy, which is great for those short daylight hours in winter. However, you’d want the opposite effect before bed!
By shifting your computer or cell phone to “night exposure” you can reduce blue light, which stimulates the brain to produce “awake” hormones. Most apps allow you set the time for this switch to happen but you can also turn it on anytime.
Set the stage for relaxation
Have you tried meditation to relax? Our lives are filled by stress, some of it good, some of it bad. By triggering the Parasympathetic Nervous System, (PNS) you activate the rest and digest setting. There are several great ways to do this: meditation, reading, yoga poses, exercise, massage, foam rolling, or breathing exercises.
It’s best to avoid drugs or alcohol for this, as they may be more disruptive in the long term and not actually trigger true PNS activation. There are lots of great apps available for download to help you relax; I really like using Headspace for meditation.