Getting a solid 8 hours of sleep at night does a lot more than just feeling refreshed in the morning.
Good sleep will:
But for some reason, a lot of us have poor sleep and at times, some of us even struggle with insomnia (it’s a lot more common than you think).
The National Institutes of Health estimates that roughly 30 percent of the general population complains of sleep disruption, and approximately 10 percent have associated symptoms of daytime functional impairment consistent with the diagnosis of insomnia (Sleep Foundation, 2020).
Although the equation is simple ‘Good sleep = Better results’ what most of us struggle with is the ‘how’.
Follow these 5 tips daily and notice the improvement in how you feel short term and long term.
As we all know caffeine gives us a boost of energy and is scientifically proven to enhance performance whether it is a physical or mental activity.
I personally love caffeine so don’t worry, I am not here to tell you you need to quit caffeine.
However, I am here to tell you that the effects of caffeine last much longer than you may think.
Even though we might feel like we can easily fall asleep at night, the effects of coffee and other caffeinated drinks (like energy drinks or pre-workout shakes) are probably still taking effect.
Caffeine normally takes about 5 hours to filter out of your system however for those who drink multiple per day, it may take longer.
You may feel a bit drained and manage to fall asleep but the truth is the brain isn’t completely at rest meaning you don’t get that deep sleep you need in order to fully rest and recover.
Tip 1: Stick to no more than 2-3 caffeinated drinks per day and stop all consumption 10-12 hours before bedtime
Stopping your caffeine intake 10-12 hours before going to sleep means that your body has time to use up all that energy and naturally filter out any remaining.
Kind of like when you drink alcohol you need to wait 1-2 hours per standard drink before you drive because, before this, the effects of alcohol are still quite prominent.
“But I’m immune to coffee, I can have 10 coffees and still sleep like a rock.”
Sure, everyone has different tolerance levels but if you’re drinking caffeine throughout the day, have your last one a few of hours before going to sleep and then have one first thing in the morning your body isn't ever getting a break.
So, would you even know what it’s like to sleep without caffeine in your system?
Try this tip for 7 days and then see how you feel in the second week, I can guarantee that you will be sleeping and feeling a lot better.
Whether it's Instagram, Facebook, Netflix all of these have one thing in common, blue light.
Blue light is in all electronic devices; laptops, desktops, television, mobile phones, tablets, etc.
Being exposed to blue light depletes the body’s natural melatonin which is the hormone in the brain that lets your body know when it’s time to sleep.
Tip 2: Avoid your electronic screens at least 1-2 hours before going to sleep
“But being on my phone in bed makes me sleepy.”
This may just be a bedtime habit you have like any other bad habit (e.g. after you eat one of your main meals you crave something sweet).
Even though you may feel like being on your phone or watching tv helps you, your melatonin levels have still dropped meaning you worsen your sleep quality and ruin your ability to fall asleep naturally in the coming days, weeks (and if you keep it up) years.
Try finding a habit to replace scrolling Instagram like reading, listening to calming music, sleep podcasts, or doing a skincare routine.
Magnesium is a relaxation supplement that is scientifically proven to help the process of regulating neurotransmitters.
So, this wonderful little tablet calms the nervous system which helps you fall asleep and no, it’s not a sleeping pill.
Magnesium is an essential mineral the human body naturally produces however, we require large quantities of magnesium to function at our full potential.
The amount of magnesium I normally recommend to my clients are:
However, this may vary depending on the individual's health conditions and bodyweight.
Tip 3: Take the required amount of magnesium with your dinner every day
I personally recommend taking magnesium in powder form because it is absorbed by the body faster than a tablet. However, any form of magnesium is better than none so do what works best for you!
GABA (a.k.a gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter in the brain that blocks certain brain signals and decreases activity in the nervous system. This helps us to naturally wind down and keep the mind relaxed while sleeping.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a ‘GABA supplement’ because it is a neurotransmitter. However, GABA does have a direct correlation with taurine.
Studies show that taurine stimulates the brain to increase GABA production. Which brings us to…
Tip 4: Boost your taurine levels by eating seafood for dinner
Seafood is a great source of taurine and is an easily digested protein meaning you won’t go to sleep feeling full and bloated.
Carbohydrates are delicious and things that are delicious make you happy (in other words they increase your natural levels of serotonin).
Remember earlier on when we spoke about how important it is to keep your natural melatonin levels high? Well, serotonin is used by the body to synthesise melatonin which promotes deeper sleep.
Tip 5: Eat a healthy serving of gluten-free carbohydrates with your dinner
“But why do the carbs have to be gluten-free?”
Gluten can sometimes cause irritation in the digestive system. Serotonin, even though it’s a neurotransmitter and affects the brain, is made in the stomach. If we upset our digestive system, we may disrupt serotonin production.
Like most things, you won’t see results overnight but with this, you will see results in a short period of time.
After just a week of implementing the top five tips to your daily routine, you will definitely see a difference in your ability to fall asleep faster and your overall sleep quality.
Forget sleeping pills, enhance your natural sleeping functions and reduce anything that’s going to get in the way of your good sleep.
Jes Murphy has been a Personal Trainer at Fitness Playground and The Bunker for over 5 years! She has participated and won multiple fitness competitions such as WBFF, with the majority of her clients reaching out to her for competition preparation training. Click here to connect with her.