For over 10 years I battled with chronic insomnia. A condition I contracted from my unbeknown poor lifestyle of unhealthy diet, excessive drinking, intermittent shift work and lack of exercise. I tried all sorts of ''remedies'' from medications, herbal teas, meditation to self-medication. NONE of these remedies were as effective as a balance of healthy eating and plenty of exercise. The combination of the two finally brought my "chronic" condition (more like a lifestyle condition) under control. Sleeping like a baby was never easier and I was immediately hooked. As I progressed in my training I soon realized just how important a proper night's sleep was for my results in the gym. My quest for an even better sleeping experience continued over the next few years and I have come up with 5 essentials for the perfect nights sleep.
Eating and Timing
Making sure to eat dinner at a respectable hour before bed can have a huge impact on the quality of sleep you have. Eating too close to bed time will mean that your digestive system works throughout the night whilst your body is trying to get its much needed rest. This is especially the case if your dinner consists of complex carbohydrates, so try and stick to a dinner of mostly fibrous carbohydrates, lean protein and very little saturated fats. Avoid caffeine after midday and although it may seem that glass of red might put you straight to sleep, it will interfere with your sleep cycle and REM pattern.
Switch Off Those Devices
The artificial lights that come from your computer screens, televisions or smart devices can significantly impact your sleep-wake patterns. These lights interfere with your circadian clock and suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that is produced to help regulate and promote sleep. So switch off that TV, put your phone in a drawer and try reading a book or listening to some relaxing music in those last 2 hours before bed.
Take a Luke Warm Shower
Your body temperature will naturally drop which prepares you for physiological changes such as the production of melatonin when you sleep. You can assist your body with these changes with a luke warm shower. A shower too hot will speed up your metabolism and too cold will force your body to raise its core temperature following the shock of the cold water, so finding that right temperature is important and a great way to relax the body and unwind.
Keep Your Bedroom Sleep Friendly
Make sure your bed is comfortable with fresh sheets and your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Having a heater on will only interfere with your natural body temperature drop. As do pyjamas or clothing so sleeping nude is ideal. Also make it a habit to keep your bedroom only for sleeping or sex. Avoid any work errands, emails or eating in bed. This will help give your body the right cues to either go to sleep or get funky romantic.
Not only will regular exercise help you get a good night's sleep, but it will also keep you more productive, creative and motivated during your hours awake. Not to mention the endless number of health benefits associated with regular exercise. So fit in that run, jump on that bike, rush to that class, lift those weights and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Just get moving any way you can! You wont realize how it can change the quality of life until you try.
Evan Belogiannis*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.