Tips to Clean Up Your Sleep
Written by Charissa Sutliff
What if I told you sleep is your #1 performance enhancer? Sleep is not for suckers. Sleep is for the high performers. Rest and recovery are an important part of the process for optimizing our performance and health.
Poor sleep habits can cost us. Lack of sleep has been associated with increased cravings for sugar and processed foods, and increased calorie intake. It is also associated with poor mood, impaired decision making and stress management. Lack of sleep can have an impact on our nutrition choices, emotional management and stress management.
Whereas good quality sleep can help us lose fat, gain muscle, recover and repair, regulate our hormones, hunger, appetite, satiety, blood sugar and lipids. When we sleep well we have more energy and vitality, we think, learn and remember better, we’re in a better mood, respond to life’s challenges better, and recover from injury and illness faster.
So let’s talk about some things we can do to improve our sleep habits, and sleep hygiene to help us feel and function our best across many areas of our lives.
Clean Sleep Hygiene
There are a few things to focus on for good sleep hygiene – duration, consistency and quality.
Getting enough sleep is important, it is recommended that we get somewhere between 6-8 hours depending on our age and other factors. We should aim to get enough sleep. However that isn’t the only contributor to sleep hygiene.
Recent findings have shown that a consistent sleep schedule is more important than the duration. For example, if you are only getting a few hours of sleep during the week and try to catch up on the weeks, this might not help you. Having a consistent sleep wake time throughout the entire week is more helpful. For example a bed time by 10:30pm and waking up at 5:00am daily while it is only 6 hours per night, it may be helpful for your recovery because it is consistent.
The quality of our sleep is also important. Many things can impact the quality of our sleep. If you are in bed for 8 hours, but only sleep 5 hours of that time, your sleep quality isn’t great. Sleep quality can be impacted by stress, by alcohol, by eating late at night, by light, by temperature, sound. Sleep quality also has to do with your sleep cycles. It is important for our body to be able to get enough time in each of the sleep cycles. We need both REM sleep and DEEP sleep. REM sleep is the mentally restorative sleep, where DEEP is the physically restorative sleep.
Here are my top tips for improving your sleep hygiene:
- A consistent sleep and wake time, even over the weekends. Sometimes we can experience a social hangover because we stay up late on the weekends with friends and it can impact our recovery.
- Make your room as dark as possible. Use blackout curtains to keep the light out and remove any lights that come from electronics. You can also use an eye mask. Secret tip: I’ve used my COVID facemask as an eye mask to sleep with 😛
- Use a sound machine. I use my Google Home to play white noise sounds, this helps drown out any other sounds that I might hear in my apartment complex, like street traffic, or neighbors.
- Avoid eating close to bedtime. IDEALLY finish your last meal 2 hours before bedtime. Sometimes in real life this isn’t possible but you can do your best and experiment with what you eat.
- Get rid of screens 1-2 hours before bed time. Interacting with our screens can increase our brain activity. Putting screens away allows our brains to relax and get us prepared for bed.
- Create a pre-bed ritual that signals your body it’s time to wind down and go to bed. Have a cup of tea, read a book, take a hot shower.
- Chill out, aka turn the temperate down. Sleeping in cooler temperatures can help us sleep better.
- Cut the caffeine. Try not to have caffeine after 12pm or whatever time will help you to get to sleep.
- Cut the alcohol. Alcohol is detrimental to sleep, recovery and performance.
- Breathe. Rather than counting sheep, count your breaths.
- Eat well. Nutrition is a form of passive recovery. Fueling our bodies with the raw materials it needs to function, through food, getting optimal amounts of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, micronutrients and antioxidants.
- Movement! Moving our bodies can help us sleep better
Do you need some nutrition help? Our nutrition coaching at Invictus utilizes a multi-faceted approach to locate and refine habit change opportunities unique to the individual and their life. We accomplish this by helping them improve their life in the short-term AND the long-term utilizing our 4 Pillars of Health – Nutrition, Movement, Stress & Sleep. Learn more about our online Nutrition Coaching Program and get started today! It doesn’t matter what your goal is…You won’t regret it!