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January 29, 2018 4 min read

Getting good sleep isn't easy.

We all have busy, hectic lives and getting good sleep is often the last thing we think about.

As a sleep researcher with 10 years of experience, I decided to distill my top sleep tips into an informative, actionable list (which you can read below).

These tips are based off of my years of researching sleep as well as my personal experiences - if you put the following sleep tips into action, I promise that you'll see your sleep quality skyrocket!

Read on below...

 

1. Quality Over Quantity.

You need at least seven hours of sleep to perform at your best. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep and don't dip above or below.

While quantity is important, make sure the quality of your sleep is high.

How do you get quality sleep?Go to bed before midnight. This will ensure that you maximize your non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) cycles, which are controlled by an internal biological clock. Speaking of a biological clocks….


2. Sleep Timing Is Everything.

Go to bed before midnight and wake up with the sunrise.

Waking up with the sunrise will help maximize your levels of alertness throughout the day. It's best to saturate your eyes with sunlight early in the day to maximize the output of your biological clock.

Getting this morning sunlight wakes up and activates your body.


3. Keep A Consistent Schedule

Your body's internal clocks latch on to everything in its surrounding environment.

We all have routines for when we go to bed, when we shower, when we eat, etc....

A change in your schedule is biologically stressful.

Having a different schedule on the weekends compared to weekdays, known as "social jet lag", has the same effect as traveling across time zones - so try and keep a consistent sleep schedule throughout the week (weekends included).

 

4. Create An Evening Routine.

..In line with keeping a consistent sleep schedule, follow a nightly sleep routine.

Life is chaotic.

Creating a bedtime routine is a great way to settle your mind down for the night and prepare your body for sleep.

A great habit to get into is keeping a daily gratitude journal.

5. Minimize Light At Night.

The inner workings of the biological clock are highly sensitive to light. Just like exposing your body to light during the day wakes up your body, light at night also wakes up your body.

Turning on the light in the middle of the night is not good. It signals your system that it's time to wake up.

So start dimming the lights and embrace candlelight an hour before bed.

Use a sleep mask to block out light.

You should also start minimizing your electronics usage 30-60 minutes before bed. Phone and TV screens use small LED lights that work to activate your brain, which is the opposite of what you need to do before bed. 

So do your best to minimize screen time before bed. Read a book instead.

This will help your body to start winding down for a full night of sleep.

 

6. Sleep With Minimal Clothing.

This is a personal hypothesis, but one of the best ways to increase REM sleep is to lower your core body temperature.

Your body reaches the peak stages of REM sleep when your body temperature dips.

Since PJs and heavy blankets provide insulation, your core body temperature may not reach its programmed minimum, hence, you may not get the full brain rejuvenating effects of your REM sleep cycle.

So sleep with less clothing and blankets to help your body reach the deep, restorative stages of sleep.

 

7. Eat A Well Rounded Diet.

Nutrient deficiencies impact your body' ability to sleep.

As an example, many people are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is an essential nutrient that is involved in maintaining your nervous system.

Remember that sleep is a phenomenon of the central nervous system.

Magnesium helps your body to relax - which makes it a crucial nutrient for those that have a hard time winding down at night.

You can get more magnesium through eating a balanced diet.

You can also supplement with magnesium.

We include a beneficial dose of magnesium in our award-winning Stay Asleep formula.

We also have a stand-alone Magnesium product called U-Mag, which gives you your daily dose of Magnesium in a tasty drink mix!

 

8. Cut Off Caffeine After 3PM

Caffeine is ok to consume, just do it strategically. Although you may feel as if your espresso at 3 PM has no impact past 3:30 PM, it actually does.

Caffeine takes 4-6 hours on average to metabolize in your body.

This means that your brain will be feeling the effect of that espresso well into the evening, which can hinder your ability to fall asleep later at night.

So cut out the caffeine after 3pm.

9. Take Care Of Your Gut Health.

The mind-body connection is an important phenomenon.

What you eat impacts your brain.

The inner workings of the gut, and what we feed our gut, is thought to give feedback to the central nervous system, which influences brain function.

If we eat poorly, our brain suffers.

If we eat healthy, our brain stays healthy.

Your brain function plays a big role in your ability to sleep at night.

So take a probiotic supplement, or eat probiotic-rich foods like kimchi and kombucha to support your gut health.

In turn, this will help to improve your sleep quality.

   

10. Use A Sleep Diary (and set a sleep goal)

Chasing a goal, whether it is to improve your sleep quantity or quality, can make a profound impact on your life.

We spend 1/3 of our life sleeping - it's important!

So set a goal to improve your sleep. Document what time you went to bed, if and when you woke up, and the duration of your sleep. Tracking your progress will help you know how well you are accomplishing your goal.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Dr. Allison Brager

Dr. Allison Brager is a neuroscientist specializing in the physiology and genetics of sleep and performance. Outside of the laboratory, she is a former college athlete, Crossfit Games team athlete, and is still active in track and field.

 

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