It’s often one of those forgotten elements of our daily lives, sleep. Yet, like food and water, we all need sleep to survive.
The questions for many people are: what’s the quality like and how much are you getting?
This is where the parallel with food and water continues. I think we can all agree that the better the quality of food (nutrients) and water we get, the healthier we’ll be. The same also applies for sleep.
Just like eating nutrient poor food and drinking dirty water is far from ideal for one’s health and body, crappy sleep is a huge detriment to us. We see mental and physical effects a consistent cost- alertness dropping, stress (and its hormonal effects) increasing, hunger changes as insulin regulation is affected also.
Ok, what are the specifics to aim for?
Everyone is different, however, aiming for a minimum of 7 hours a night, some people up to 8 on average. Ideally be in bed before 10:30 and asleep by 11. If you wake feeling fresh, perfect you’re doing well. If you’re constantly tired, start looking at these numbers and don’t compromise!
How do you improve your sleep if it’s lacking?
First off it pays to assess it. Once you have a picture of your current sleep you can address what needs attention:
- Each morning note down what time you went to bed the night before, roughly how long it took to fall asleep, what time you woke, the overall quality (score it out of 10), how you felt in the morning and if the sleep was broken or restless.
- Keep this for a week and pay attention to the details, you’ll soon see what numbers and important details need work.
Then, let’s look at implementing these 5 key strategies for improving your sleep:
- Switch off– we live in a busy world that is constantly grabbing our attention. Whether it be work, family, technology or our own minds we are relentlessly bombarded by stressor after stressor and one demand for our attention after another. This begins to impact on us, our minds and eventually our hormones with cortisol increases a direct response to increased stress. This will heavily affect your ability to fall asleep and have a good deep sleep. You have wind your mind down to promote your parasympathetic nervous system in order for ‘rest and digest’ mode to kick in. Here are some great tactics to switch off: No work or watch electronics at least 30 minutes prior to bed, dim the lights in the hour before bed, remove electronics from the bedroom, spend 10 minutes doing a brain dump, read something mindless, meditate, level your breathing and heart rate by taking big long full inhale/exhale breaths when you get into bed.
- Get some sun- Not only is regular sun exposure crucial for adequate vitamin D, something many people are deficient in, but it will help your melatonin production, which is your natural sleep hormone.
- Supplement with magnesium, zinc or Vitamin B6- These individual or combined substances are crucial for repair and healing, whilst aiding in dropping off to a deep restful sleep where this healing can take place. Deficiencies are common in a large proportion of the population.
- Eat carbs at night- Good quality carb options – like root vegetables – with your last meal will help to boost melatonin production making you get to sleep quicker and have a deeper sleep. They will also provide you with great energy for the morning especially if you exercise then.
- Do your nightly rituals after dinner-If you normally floss and brush your teeth before going to bed, or perhaps put the rubbish out, do it well before bed time so when that time comes you’re not having to fight your body while you do chores.
Start implementing some of these and you’ll be sleeping better in no time.
Always remember that adequate quality sleep is a very important part of living a health life and having a body you love. Pair it with great food, quality water and regular exercise and you’ve got a recipe for success!
Mike is a personal trainer,coach, author and a massive food and training geek.
When he started as a Personal trainer nearly 10 yearsago,hedidn’tenvisagecomingacrossthe sameissuesdayinand dayout,however,hedid, andconstantly has.Nowhefocusesonsolving theseproblems formen,andalsowhatledtohim writing his book: Eat like a man, train like a beast, operate like a gentleman and become a legend
Mike is incredibly passionate about helping guys become the best man they can be. He is the mastermind and creator of the ‘Unleash Your Alpha Program’– a proven system for helping men unleash the power and awesomeness that lies within them, not just physically, but in all areas of life.
Plushelovestocook, eatandtalktohisfood.He loves stone fruit,cold beer,red wine and to think of himself as a low level Batman. And he likes to lift heavy things, eat many a variety of meat and write short bios.
You’ll find his advice tobe uncomplicated andimmediately actionable.
Mike believes strongly in making things easy to follow and implement and cutting out the confusing noise and misinformation in the health and fitness industry.
You’ll find more on Mike at www.unleashyouralpha.com
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases and is an advisor to Reed Medical Conferences.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA.