After 45 years of macho-man thinking that “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” and working into the early hours of each morning while sipping on caffeinated beverages…I am FINALLY realizing how much damage I was doing to myself. I thought I was healthy because I ate well and worked out, which IS part of the equation. However, I was functioning at a fraction of my potential energy levels, focus, cognition, and mental bandwidth. Not to mention I was rapidly aging my body and slowing my physical performance and ability to recover from workouts. I was hindering my ability to handle stress and feeling a constant sense of overwhelm.
Not anymore. I have prioritized my sleep duration and quality for the past several months, and my overall quality of life has significantly improved!
The more research that is done on sleep, the more it highlights the incredible importance and benefits that sleep does for nearly every aspect of our overall health—from physical health to mental health, which even goes on to impact our social health and how we interact with others.
Sleep is one of the most powerful mechanisms that repairs damaged tissues in the body, boosts the immune system, regulates hormone balance and production, helps us manage stress, trauma, and emotions, and the list goes on…
Top Ways to Improve Your Sleep
In short, deep and restful sleep will positively impact every single system of your body and greatly improve your overall quality of life.
If getting quality sleep is hard for you, here are a few tips that have been proven to help optimize your sleep:
- Avoid bright lights within an hour of going to sleep
- Avoid eating a large meal prior to sleep (ideally, best to eat only lightly 1-2 hours before bed)
- Aim to go to bed around the same time every night (within 30-60 minutes) and wake up around the same time every morning
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol 8 hours prior to going to sleep
- Set a cool sleep environment (66-70 degrees)
- Try a supplement like Magnesium Threonate, Magnesium Glycinate, or Theanine (only if you do not have intense dreams, sleep walk, or experience night terrors) and consult with your healthcare team before taking any dietary supplement.
- Consider using an eye mask and earplugs to reduce visual and audio interference
- Breathe through your nose (use mouth tape if necessary)
- Aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep
- Wake to a subtle stimulus, not a loud alarm
- Try to get direct sunlight into your eyes as soon as possible upon waking:
- 5-10 minutes on cloudless days
- 20 minutes on overcast days
- Dark, overcast days will require more sunlight OR try a bright artificial daylight simulator
Simply getting enough sleep can be a total life game-changer in so many positive ways, but unfortunately, 1 in 3 of us struggle to get enough shut eye every night. I learned the hard way how important sleep is for all aspects of my life, and I hope that if you’re struggling to get enough quality sleep that these tips and my own experience can make a difference.