5 Steps To Improved Sleep and Health
Sleep is just as important as exercise and nutrition. We discussed the health affects of sleep deprivation in the post “Why we’ve gotta get our sleep right”.
Now it’s time to put some simple but effective steps in place to improve sleep quality and restore the sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm).
Do these 5 things consistently and you’ll have more energy than you’ll know what to do with, and feel healthier than you’ve ever been.
1. Light up your morning
We want ramp up the wake phase of our the sleep-wake cycle as early and effectively as possible. We trigger this by sending light signals to the brain. Have your coffee and/or breakfast outside under natural light. Ideally it’ll be a blue sky, but daylight of any form will do.
I know this isn’t always possible due to weather or location. In this case we have amazing technology to help us. Use a bright light device while going through your morning routine. This sends blue light directly to the brain through the eyes to kick start wakefulness.
One important factor is that you do this for at least 20 minutes each day and do it the same time every day. Our sleep-wake cycle coincides with the 24hour clock, so we want to trigger wakefulness consistently.
2. Make your home your cave
The sleep-wake cycle is disrupted by constant light entering the eyes after dark. So we need to encourage our brain and body to wind down after dark.
Block out all light coming in from the streets around your home. Block out curtains are fantastic for this.
Eliminate the use of bright lights in your home. In the rooms of the house with regular use, change lightbulbs to amber, orange or red. This won’t interfere with melatonin production like regular white light does.
You could even light your cave with candles. Your partner will love you for it too!
3. Download blue light filter software
Let’s be honest, we’re not going to stop using our technology at night. There’s some innovative software that helps reduce blue light from screens. Most of them can be set to coincide with the sun’s activity, or your own custom times.
Phone & Tablet
Apple has a night shift setting for iPhone and iPad.
Go to settings > Display & Brightness. For Android users, there’s a range of free apps available. I’m an Apple guy, but reviews seem to favour Twilight.
4. Blue-Blocker Glasses
These are a revelation! Ideally you’ll make some changes to household lighting as well, but Blue-Blocker Glasses allow you to do your thing through the night without worrying about blue light disrupting the sleep-wake cycle.
Breathing is the gateway to your autonomic nervous system, which controls fight or flight and rest and digest. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is very affective in helping you get off to sleep.
• Breath in through the nose for a mental count of 4 seconds.
• Hold your breath for 7 seconds
• Breathe out gently through the mouth for 8 seconds.
• Perform this for 60 second before bed.
I also recommend taking moments through the day to focus on your breath tho reduce stress levels. It’ll not only improve your productivity, but also level out cortisol before nightfall comes around.
Implement these 5 things to improve your quality of sleep, and hence your health. Ideally achieving ALL five will be a dream (pardon the pun), but if all you can do is a select few for now, it’ll still help dramatically.
’til Next time
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