How to Get Better Sleep - Part 1
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
Sleep is so important, yet so many of us struggle to get enough sleep, or good quality sleep… often without realising.
Read on to see how you can upgrade your sleep quality.
This will be a 3 part series, each part giving 7 easy tips on a different area of sleep. All of these tips have been tried and tested by myself and by years of personal training clients and online coaching clients.
Part 1 - Light
Light is one of the major factors that tells our body what time of day it is, and therefore when it is time to sleep and wake. We not only receive light through our eyes but also sense it through our skin.
Here are 7 easy ways to tell your body to go to sleep.
1. Wear an eye mask
A quality eye mask is great for getting to sleep / returning to sleep.
Here is one i have found great.
2. Remove lights and LEDs
We absorb light through our eyes but also sense it through our skin, sending the body a signal that it is daytime (even if the light is artificial). Remove as much light from your room as possible including LEDs . Some appliances have standby LEDs - if those appliance can't be unplugged, use a small square of black tape or blu tack to cover the LED.
3. Extend your sleep environment
Keep lights low, not just in the bedroom but in any rooms you may need to wander to before bed (bathroom, kitchen). As much as possible, use red bulbs at night like these battery operated lights from Amazon which are very handy for quickly finding your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night without flooding your body with daytime signals. Failing that, use ‘blue-blocker’ glasses like these.
Use black-out blinds or heavy backed curtains. Seal any gaps using adhesive-backed Velcro to secure the curtain edges to the window ledge and wall. Seemingly trivial gaps are enough to signal 'daytime' to your body once dawn cracks (or all through the night in urban areas)
5. Limit screen time
Screens emit blue light which is exactly what we want to avoid when preparing the body for sleep.
If using screens in the 2-3 hours before bedtime, there are several ways to remove the blue light.
For computers: there is the f.lux plugin for Mac, Windows, Linux. This software will run in the background and slowly remove blue light from your screen as the sun sets in your area.
For Apple mobile devices: switch on night mode or schedule it to turn on automatically a couple of hours before your bed time.
For non-apple mobile devices: some non-apple phones have apps available just like f.lux, check your brand's App Store
For TVs/projectors, your only real option is the blue blocker glasses.
6. Increase your daylight exposure
During the daytime (or non-sleep portion of the day if doing shift work), get as much light exposure as possible. Daylight is great but any bright light will do.
If light exposure is difficult to achieve during the daytime (climate, night shift), consider a SAD lamp (designed to treat seasonal affective disorder). I use the Amazon LiteBook Edge which is great.
7. Wake with light
Start your day by immediately getting light. This will kick start your circadian rhythm (body clock), which will help with winding down later on.
If you can't access curtains from your bed, have a bright light beside you that can be switched on easily by your half-asleep brain/hand.
Even when artificial light seems to be as bright as daylight, the natural light option will have a far higher number of lumens (unit of measurement of the intensity of light), and will therefore have a greater daytime-signalling effect to the body. So wherever possible, go with the real deal!