When was the last time you had a god night’s sleep? I know, me neither!
It seems that today, sleep has become more of a mark on our to-do list, rather than a basic need. Although many of us might be getting those 6-8 hours of sleep recommended by experts, we also have to aim for quality, not just quantity.
A poor sleep routine is known to affect us on all levels. One example is the relationship between sleep and eating habits which a group of researchers has studied extensively.
As it turns out, “low-quality” sleep may result in:
“(1) more time and opportunities for eating, (2) psychological distress, (3) greater sensitivity to food reward, (4) disinhibited eating, (5) more energy needed to sustain extended wakefulness, and (6) changes in appetite hormones.”
In a sense, healthy eating (like many other good habits) relies on a good night’s sleep.
With these three tips, we will be able to achieve “high-quality” sleep and stay in perfect shape (physically and mentally) for a new day.
Tip #1: Wake up at the same time every day
Waking up at the same time every day is the oldest and most reliable trick in the book. In fact, experts have stressed (and for good reasons) the importance of this habit for so long; it has become “the golden rule”; the one practice we just can’t overlook.
As most of us know from experience, a regular sleep schedule creates a sense of balance or a stable “rhythm” that your body and mind can dance to in perfect harmony.
Let’s take a quick look at how successful people set their sleep schedule:
Bill Gates (CEO of Microsoft) sleeps around seven hours per night (12 am – 7 am). Before going to bed, he likes to read for about an hour.
Winston Churchill (Prime Minister of the UK) used to sleep for about five hours (3 am – 8 am). He also kept a bed in the House of Parliament for quick afternoon naps.
Ellen DeGeneres (TV host) sleeps eight solid hours per night (11 pm – 7 am). She also likes to practice meditation before bed.
Barack Obama (44th President of the US) has a rigorous seven-hour sleep routine (1 am – 7 am).
As a conclusion, the general rule is to sleep 6-8 hours per night, no less, no more. Also, make sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Tip #2: Put your phone away
Imagine it’s 11 pm and you decide to call it a day. But just before you turn off the bedside lamp, your phone beeps. It’s a Facebook notification telling you a friend has just posted a new picture. You pick up the phone, and one hour later you find yourself scrolling through silly pictures. Now your brain is no longer in that “bedtime mood” so you get up for a quick snack. That pretty much sums up how many of us fail to get a good night’s sleep.
But why is smartphone use before bedtime a bad practice?
A group of researchers who set out to explore the effects of smartphone use at night has reached the following conclusion.
“Use of blue light LED smartphones at night may negatively influence sleep.”
And it’s not just about smartphones. Any device that emits a blue light could potentially disrupt our body’s internal clock.
The explanation? Our brain uses light frequency to set up its internal clock. Blue light is associated with that bright morning sun, so when our brain detects this frequency, it will automatically switch to “day mode.”
Smartphones and pretty much any device with a LED display are the biggest killers of sleep. Make sure you put them away one hour before going to bed.
For those of us who want to delve even deeper into the secrets of high-quality sleep, Shawn Stevenson’s book, Sleep Smarter might come in handy. From setting a “healthy” bedtime ritual to controlling the habits that could disturb our sleep, this book packs a generous bagage of valuable details about the “anatomy” of sleep.
Tip #3: Ten mindful minutes
When it comes to building a good bedtime ritual, nothing beats a ten-minute session of mindfulness. This newly explored “multi-tool” shows promising results in improving not just the quality of sleep, but also our day-to-day fight against stress.
To highlight the importance of mindfulness in enhancing the quality of sleep, a group of researchers has tested the Mindfulness in Motion (MIM) program of a group of Scandinavian Employees.
As the authors describe it, the MIM is:
“a mindfulness-based intervention that incorporates mindfulness, music, and yoga in a time-limited fashion.”
Compared to the control group (no intervention), the MIM group who received eight weeks of mindfulness training showed,
“significant reductions in stress, improvements in global sleep and subjective sleep quality.”
We don’t need fancy pillows and expensive sheets. Just ten minutes of calm and serenity before bed and you will sleep like a baby.
To sum up:
- Stick to a sleep routine
- Put your smartphone away one hour before going to bed.
- Get some peace of mind with ten minutes of mindfulness.