A few months ago, I had made a blog post all about sleep quality and ways we can improve it. In that blog (Found here) we touched on the effects of caffeine intake, room temperature, and screen time.
Today we are covering 3 more areas that might be affecting your sleep quality more than you know it. Again, sleep quality cannot be overlooked when it comes to our health and wellness. Getting a quality night sleep can make all the difference to how we feel, how we recover, and how we progress inside the gym. As an Edmonton Personal Trainer, I’d say these are some of the most important things we can do to see the results we want.
Let’s get into it
- Establish A Routine
Establishing a night time routine, and getting into the habit of going to bed at the same time can greatly affect the quality of our sleep. This comes down to our circadian rhythm, or out internal clock. If our sleep patterns are all over the place, and we are going to bed at inconsistent times, our internal clock will struggle to release hormones at the proper time. This is most commonly seen when we travel to different time zones and get “jet lagged”.
By establishing a night time routine consistently, it allows our body to prepare itself to go to bed. This routine should reduce stress and reduce stimulation of the body/mind. Some great practices for this could include having a warm shower/bath, journaling, meditation, and/or reading prior to bed (not on a device, and Facebook articles don’t count).
Initially it may be hard to establish a routine, so my suggestion is to set alarms on your phone to remind you of when it’s time to start getting ready for bed, and when it’s time to shut things down for the night. Stick with this routine as much as possible, including on weekends to get your body used to these habits, and your sleep quality will increase dramatically since our body will have a clear time to release the hormones, we need for a deep REM sleep.
2. Reducing Booze
We have a bit of a myth to debunk here, as many people think that alcohol actually helps us sleep. While it is true alcohol is a sedative, and can help us fall asleep quicker, it does drastically reduce the quality of our sleep. Alcohol dramatically reduces the amount of time we are in our REM cycle of sleep, which is the cycle of our sleep that is important for neural connections, forming memories, and is essential for learning. When drinking alcohol, we typically stay in our NREM cycle for much longer, and reduce the amount of time we are in REM sleep. This leads us to easily be woken up throughout the night.
Not only does it affect our sleep cycle, but it can contribute to sleep apnea, snoring, and frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night, which clearly affects our sleep. By reducing alcohol intake, we get a better sleep, wake up more relaxed, have better recovery, and increased brain function.
3. Physical Activity
While the research isn’t quite there with why physical activity helps our sleep, there are a number of factors that can play a role in this. First off, people who tend to be more physically active tend to focus on their nutrition more and have less body fat, which reduces the potential of having sleep apnea, which can dramatically affect our sleep cycles and how we breathe. Also, when we exercise and are more physically active throughout the day, we fatigue both the muscles and our nervous system which can help us fall asleep faster, and deeper.
Exercise will also reduce our stress levels, which can dramatically increase the quality of sleep we have as well, as cortisol (and having stressful thoughts at night) can keep us awake and prevent us from sleeping. While exercise helps decrease cortisol, it increases endorphins and stimulates other hormonal production to help us.
Using these three tips, along with the previous ones, hopefully can help you sleep more soundly on a regular basis. Sleep can be extremely important for our mental and physical health, so making the most of it should be a big priority for us! Nothing replaces a good night of sleep.
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