January 21, 2016

Mastering Your Sleep: 5 Tips to Increase Your Sleep Quality

We’ve all been there, shuffling under our “cozy” comforters to find that sweet spot where we can finally drift off into the ethereal land of restful relaxation only to wake up feeling a bit more drowsy than the night before. How can we conquer this common occurrence? More sleep doesn’t always work, granted we should get roughly 7-9 hours of sleep/night, (depending on your age group according to The Sleep Foundation) but sometimes that’s not enough. Here we’ll discuss 5 easy tips that can aid us all before the sandman punches our ticket to board the snooze cruise.

But hang on, before we consider these five tips its important to understand how sleep affects us from a physiological standpoint. No one explains it better than Jeff Illif, Neuroscientist and now, an Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. In his TED Talk, he explains his recent discoveries on how the brain functions to get rid of waste. Watch it here.

If you don’t feel like watching the amazing-awe-inspiring-11-minute video, in a nutshell: the brain activates a “cleansing” process during the sleep cycle where the brain actually opens up “plumbing” alongside the circulatory vessels in the brain. This “plumbing” fills with cerebrospinal fluid and collect waste that has been built up from the whole day. This waste is one of the reasons why we start to feel groggy from sleep deprivation.

With this in mind, lets consider these 5 easy tips to kick-start our brains’ purging process and increase sleep productivity!

1.  Colder is better

Its time to turn our evolutionary clocks back to the Stone Age and live like the cavemen used to – in the cold. Research has shown us that people who slept in colder temperatures (roughly 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit) fell asleep quicker and with better quality. I typically keep my thermostat set at 65 degrees)

2. Turn off those screens (phones, television, etc.)

As relaxing, as it might be to check your Instagram feed or those funny Facebook posts before dozing off, the light generated from your screen is very similar to that of the sun and can trick your mind into thinking “Its time to stay awake!” So try to eliminate checking your phone before going to bed, even if it’s a part of your bedtime rituals. Which brings us to our next tip!

3. Develop a bedtime routine 1 hour before sleeping

Whether it be meditating, stretching, breathing exercises, positive thinking, or reading a book – developing a routine, 1 hour before bed, can be an easy way to “trick” your brain into a sleep mode. If you try to sleep immediately after completing an engaging task your mind will feel too busy therefore making it harder to fall asleep. I prefer breathing exercises and meditating to put me under.

4. Reposition your bed

Ever feel uncomfortable sleeping in public? This is due to an evolutionary barrier in our brains! According to Richard Wiseman a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, repositioning your bed furthest from your entryway as well as facing it will make you feel more comfortable. This is due to the way we have evolved. We feel safer if we can spot trouble, allowing us more time to react. Now… if we can only figure out how to sleep with our eyes peeled.

5. Hit the gym

Going to the gym is probably the hardest of all the tips to follow, but definitely the most impactful. Research has shown that people who exercise get a higher quality of sleep each night compared to those who don’t exercise. Increase the intensity in the gym so you can increase your body’s need for relaxation.

In this day and age when time seems so meager, achieving a higher quality of sleep is quite difficult. So unless you’re the guru of shuteye, following these simple steps should help you achieve an increase in sleep quality and brain functioning.

Content provided by Andrew Rattay

Sources:
https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need
http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2015/06/get-better-sleep/
https://www.ted.com/talks/jeff_iliff_one_more_reason_to_get_a_good_night_s_sleep#t-1601
http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-to-sleep-better.htm
http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2013/01/sleeping-well/
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