06 Mar Getting a better night’s sleep
World Sleep Day 2019 is around the corner, but many of us in the business world are still inconsistent when it comes to getting an efficient night’s sleep. We all know sleep is important but often decline to consider it as a crucial part of our day, rather, a thing that happens at the end of it.
Would you opt to use a typewriter rather than a laptop? Probably not. Laptops improve work-rate and efficiency, they make things easier and allow us to get more done. End of. We know that the quality of our sleep has a significant effect on performance while we’re awake and working, so why is it that – and this is strange for a world so obsessed with hitting peak performance – so many of us are happy to avoid taking steps towards sleep salvation? That said, let’s look at some ‘lifehacks’ for getting a good night’s rest.
Perhaps the easiest, yet the most ignored way of getting a better night’s sleep is consistency. Just as sticking to a routine helps us get through the day, week and year with more focus, getting your head down and waking up at the same time throughout your working week is proven to hold huge benefits for the quality of your sleep.
Experts tell us that sticking to your sleep routine improves memory, academic performance and cardiovascular health. And that’s just the start. On the other hand, not sticking to your schedule can have a whole range of detrimental effects on your mind and body.
Taking the time of day into consideration, sleep experts advise you should be wary about the amount of light in your environment and take steps to manage it. Why? The human body’s internal clock, known as its ‘circadian rhythm’, uses light to help your brain and body know when to start winding down for sleep.
In order to feel awake during the day, experts recommend getting as much light as possible. But since the discovery of electricity and the subsequent invention of the lightbulb, TVs, mobile phones and other devices, we’re much more exposed to light at night. This disturbs our natural body clock and prevents our body from preparing for bed. Here’s what to do:
- Avoid TV or phone screens an hour before bed
- Activate ‘night shift’ on your iPhone to block out blue light at night
- Not on iPhone? Use a similar app to block blue light
Manage your light intake and you should see improvements in the quality of your sleep.
Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, seems to be the latest ‘fad’ on the market – and we should all be sceptical of fads. But CBD has already seen plenty of praise over the years, both from those previously aware of its benefits and medical professionals throughout the world.
Firstly, although CBD is a compound derived from the cannabis plant, it is completely non-psychoactive (it won’t get you high). According to Dr Michael J. Breus, CBD can reduce anxiety and produces calming, pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory effects in the body – all of which can help you get a higher quality of sleep. From Olympic swimmers to Managing Directors, CBD is now frequently used by high-level athletes and leading professionals around the world.
Alternatively, you could try other natural remedies like Lavender oils.
In clinical trials, lavender has been found to have anxiolytic effects (drugs used to relieve anxiety) and improve the quality and duration in sleep; even in extreme cases involving patients living with insomnia.
It mind sound obvious, but it’s often forgotten that your body and mind need to be relaxed to sleep, you just need to give them a helping hand. Have a bath, take a shower, meditate, read a book, enjoy a hot drink (without caffeine)… whatever you do, just avoid those screens.
Meditating especially is considered to be a brilliant tool when readying yourself for sleep. It can take a little practice, but you’ll find plenty of apps or YouTube videos that will guide you through the steps needed to clear your mind and start relaxing. Just 10 minutes a night can make a huge difference to your sleep and general wellbeing.
The human body isn’t an Audi with a start/stop engine, it’s more of a Ferrari that needs a little push to get going. But once it does, you’ll be flying. You may be tempted to wallow in your drowsiness in the mornings, but waking your body and brain up is important and easier than you think.
- Open your curtains and let in natural light
- Stretch to loosen your muscles
Those three small things should do the trick, but if you need an extra boost you could cook yourself a hearty breakfast or exercise to get the blood pumping. Being fully awake in the day is essential for winding down properly at night.
It’s important to remember that the human mind, a powerful tool, and the body, a complex vessel are both, in a sense, machines that need fine tuning to perform at their best. Look after them as best you can and reap the benefits. Rest easy.