9 habits that improve your sleep
Sleep can be complicated. There are many factors that affect your sleep quality and quantity. Some improve your sleep, while others make it worse. Just a few simple habits can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and night spent tossing and turning. That’s why in this video I’ll explain which habits you should adapt to improve your sleep. Some habits will help you more than others, but when all of them are combined that’s when the real magic happens. Now if you want to know which habits are ruining your sleep, then check out my other video about this topic. It’s important that you know and understand both. So let’s jump into 9 habits that will improve your sleep.
Habit number 1, get some sunlight in the morning. A great night’s sleep begins the moment you wake up. It may sound counter-intuitive that getting sunlight during the day can help you sleep better at night, but science has proven that this is precisely the case. Let me ask you this: How does your body know when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to go to bed? The answer is: it follows your internal clock aka your circadian rhythm. There are certain times of the day when your body is designed to adjust its temperature and metabolism, and to release specific hormones. The timing of it all comes down to this internal clock. One of the things that regulates this rhythm is sunlight. There are other things as well, such as food or exercise, but sunlight and light in general, is the main cue that your body uses. You see, your internal clock is not perfectly accurate, as it doesn’t follow an exact 24hour rhythm. In fact, the average duration of adult human’s circadian clock is about 24 hours and 15 minutes. Essentially your rhythm is constantly shifting forward. But sunlight overruns your imprecise internal clock and winds it back to 24 hours. That is why you should get at least 20minutes of sunlight first thing in the morning. This way you let your body know that the day has started and in turn you’ll feel sleepy sooner in the evening. However in some countries there is not much sunlight during the day. If you live in one, you should buy yourself a light which mimics the sun and use it in the morning while you do something else. If you’re interested, look up: light therapy box or SAD light.
Number 2, have a wind-down routine. People are often busy till late hours and when they jump into their beds, they just hope they will fall asleep fast. That is rarely the case and they just toss and turn for a while, because they are still stimulated from their activities. What you want to do, is implement a wind-down routine before going to bed. Give yourself time to relax and unwind. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should watch TV, or play video games on your phone or computer. These activities are too stimulating. In fact, all your electronics should be off before bedtime. Instead, a relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, should be a part of your bedtime ritual. You could also reflect on your day. Find out which things were done, what wasn’t done and what could be improved upon. Or you could plan out your next day. Take a sheet of paper and write down what you need to do. What are your goals for the next day and approximately how long will it take you to complete them. These activities are not as arousing for your brain and will help you unwind. You will find yourself feeling sleepy much sooner.
Number 3, get some exercise. All of us should try to engage in some degree of regular physical activity to maintain not only the fitness of our bodies, but also the quantity and quality of sleep. In a study of people with severe insomnia, exercise offered more benefits than most sleep drugs. It reduced the time it took to fall asleep, reduced nighttime wakefulness, while increasing total sleep time. Although exercise is good for you and it helps you get a good night’s sleep, performing it too late in the day may cause sleep problems. This is due to the stimulating effects of exercise, which increases alertness, heart rate and the release of adrenaline. It also raises your core body temperature which can take up to 6 hours to come down again. This is everything you don’t want to happen at night. So if you have the option, try to exercise in the early morning or afternoon. Especially if you want to move your sleep schedule to an earlier time, you should exercise first thing in the morning. You will naturally start waking up earlier, because your body will begin to expect it, and it will release more of the daytime hormones such as Cortisol, earlier in the day. Now while you might think of exercise as going for a run or lifting weights at the gym, walking does fall under this category as well. That’s because it still raises your body temperature and elevates your heart rate beyond the resting levels. That being said, some people have no problem with exercise in the evening and can actually fall asleep quickly after it. So try to find what works best for you.
Number 4, use your bed for sleep only. Lots of people like to browse their phones, play video games or do work on their laptop while in bed. But it’s important that you only use your bed for sleep. This is because the human brain is always looking for patterns so that it can automate behavior. You see, when you do other things besides sleeping in bed, you’re teaching your brain that your bed is for other activities as well. If you use your bed to watch TV or browse your phone, your brain will start to associate your bed with that activity. If you eat food in bed, your brain will connect it with hunger. Guess what happens if you only use your bed for sleep. That’s right, your brain will start associating your bed with ONLY sleep and whenever you go to bed, you’ll start feeling sleepy instantly. This is why it’s so important to stay away from your bed, if you’re not planning on sleeping, and only get in when you’re ready for slumber. However, if you’re currently committing this sleep crime, it’s going to take some time for your brain to make a shift, before it only associates your bed with sleep. But if you stick with it, the payoff is huge. With this habit alone, people have shaved off minutes of tossing and turning.
Number 5, make your bedroom cold. Lowering your room temperature is one of the best ways you can improve your sleep tonight. When it’s time for your body to rest, there is an automatic drop in your core body temperature to help initiate sleep. If your room is on the colder side, rather than warm, it will be much easier to shut your eyes for the night. However if the temperature in the environment stays too high, then it can be a bit of a challenge to get restful sleep. Optimal room temperature for sleep is 60–68degrees Fahrenheit or 16–20 Celsius. Anything above or below will likely cause sleep problems. This may sound a little too cold to many people. But of course, the ideal temperature will vary depending on individuals unique physiology, gender and age. So I advise you to experiment with it and see what works best for you. A few ways to cool down your bedroom are: Have the blinds closed during the day so the sun doesn’t shine inside. If it’s cool enough outside, have the windows open. Or simply use air conditioning if you have it. You can also try using a fan aimed at a glass of ice to spread cold air. Now even though the room temperature is ideally cooler, this can trigger sleeplessness in some people, because their hands and feet are too cold. The solution is to wear a pair of warm socks to bed, if that’s the case.
Number 6, take a hot bath. You have probably used this proven temperature manipulation technique before. Taking a hot bath before bedtime helps you fall asleep more quickly, but for the opposite reason most people believe. You do not fall asleep faster because you are toasty and warm. Instead, the hot bath helps you bring all of the blood to the surface of the skin. And your hands, your feet and your head are wonderful radiators of that heat. So you are essentially pulling the heat out of the core of your body to the surface of it. The result is that your core body temperature plummets. So you fall asleep faster, not because you’re warm, but because your core becomes colder. And yes, counter-intuitively, taking a warm bath also works in the summer heat. So take a bath or a shower 1 hour before going to bed. Just 10 minutes are enough to reap the benefits. The contrast between the warm bath and your cool bedroom environment will also greatly help with sleep onset. Plus the bath can help you relax and unwind. Alternatively, if you don’t want to take a full bath at night, simply bathing your hands or feet in water can help you release some of that inner heat.
Number 7, have a sleep schedule. If there’s only one piece of advice you take from this video, this should be it. As creatures of habit, people have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns. That means if you usually go to bed at 2am, you won’t be able to fall asleep at 10pm, just because you want to. You simply won’t feel sleepy at that time, because your body is not used to it. A sleep routine helps your body release hormones at the right time to make you feel sleepy. Specifically the sleep hormone called Melatonin, which regulates sleep and wakefulness. That is why you should go to bed at roughly the same time every day. Having a regular schedule will cut down on the amount of time you spend tossing and turning by a huge amount. This is because you will naturally start feeling sleepy at the same time every night. So I highly recommend you sit down and plan out a sleep schedule that you can maintain daily. Not just during the week, but on the weekends as well. On Fridays and Saturdays, people tend to go to bed at a later time, but in the process they mess up their sleep schedules. In turn waking up on Mondays becomes much, much more difficult. What you could do is set an alarm for when it’s time to go to sleep. Often we set an alarm for when it’s time to wake up, but you’re better off having an alarm reminding you that it’s time to go to bed.
Number 8, optimize your bedroom. Think of your bedroom as a cave — it should be quiet, cold, and dark. You know from the previous points why the bedroom should be cold. But did you know that your skin actually has receptors that can pick up light? If there’s light in your bedroom your body is picking it up and sending messages to your brain that can interfere with your sleep. So it’s not just about covering your eyes with a face mask. You should sleep in complete darkness if you want good quality sleep. So anything that produces light, get it out of your bedroom. If there is light coming from street lights outside, get some blackout curtains so your room is pitch black. Also noise is something that will interrupt your sleep, which is no surprise there. So you want to eliminate that too. In some cases there is nothing you can do about the noise, because the neighbors are having a party or whatever. If that’s the case I suggest using earplugs throughout the night. Another thing that you could use is white noise. It will muffle all other sounds and you’ll be able to fall asleep faster. Just look up white noise here on youtube.
Number 9, meditation. People often get into bed and then proceed to think about everything that went wrong in their day, they start worrying about the future, and of course they remember a conversation they had 2 years ago and think about what they should have said instead. And all this happens right before they were supposed to be sleeping. Does it sound familiar? This is the result of all the stress that was built up over the day. When we’re stressed or overly worried, our minds race with thoughts instead of shutting down at night, which leaves our brain hyper active and we stay wide awake. So you may want to look at what’s going on in your life, that’s giving you stress and see if you can do something about that. This is where a relaxation technique comes in handy, and it’s called meditation.
A lot of people think meditation is for hippies only, but there is a ton of scientific data about the beneficial impact of meditation on total sleep time, sleep efficiency and sleep quality. If you don’t know how to meditate I made a video explaining it, which you should check out. But to explain it briefly: you breathe deeply and slowly through your nose. Focus on your breathing for let’s say 10 minutes. Your mind will wander, but that’s ok. Whenever you notice that you got lost in thought, just bring your attention back to your breathing again. You do this until you don’t feel as worried and stressed, or when you start feeling sleepy. That’s when you go to bed. So take advantage of meditation whenever your mind won’t shut up. Thank you so much for reading till the end. Those were the 9 habits you want to implement if you want to improve your sleep. Hopefully you learned something new and your sleep will be better than yesterday.