Do you know that wonderful warm feeling of falling asleep? All surrounded by fluffy pillows and blankets, fuzzy inside and ready to dream sweetly? Sounds amazing, right? Well, when this feeling is trying to get ahold of you in the middle of a busy day…not so much. It makes you get just another cup of java (that won’t actually help) and wade through the sleepiness instead going through the day full of energy. You also lose alertness, and it can be fatal if you are driving or operating heavy machinery (coffee machine counts). How to get better sleep in less time without sacrificing your life?
Better sleep: What is it?
Sleep is required for our health. It is the time when our body recovers from daily activities, and our muscles build and recover as well. Your body works hard when you sleep to support brain function and your overall health, both physical and mental. Your immune system, hormones, and the majority of your organs depend on good sleep – it is the time when they get repaired and healed. Sleep also affects our mood, weight, and emotional health. Your daily functioning is affected by the quality and quantity of sleep you get at night. Nobody wants to deal with crabby, cranky, and moody people, #amiright?!
First of all, let’s have a look at what defines “better sleep”.
1. You sleep regularly and for a sufficient amount of time for your body to recover (7-9 hours for most people).
2. You wake up and fall asleep easily, as well as feel energized the majority of your day.
3. Your sleep is uninterrupted by your body or mind – if you wake up, you fall back asleep easily, you don’t snore, and don’t sleepwalk (seriously!).
Now…can you say “yes” to all of these?
My sleep story
For some, it is natural to sleep 5 hours a day. I need at least 8-9 hours (when I train), and 7-8 when I don’t. Otherwise, I am in a permanent zombie-like state, cranky, moody, and not a pleasant human being. In the past (ah when I was so young and naïve), I spent countless nights listening to jazz shows my friends played, falling asleep early in the morning, and heading back to class in the late morning. I did it for fun, and my body was handling it well for a couple of years. Now one night staying up crushes me, and the next day is ruined by feeling half-sick/half-alive. Over the years I have learned how to be busy by day and rest well at night. I choose better sleep, and sometimes my sleep time is limited (surprise: I am normal!) It means… you can get better sleep, too! Because if not…lack of sleep isn’t fun for you or your family.
Lack of Sleep: the Consequences
Even on the smaller scale sleep-deprivation has a compound effect. You can reduce the number of hours you rest or not sleep perfectly, and once in a while, it is fine. Over time, though, it adds up and leads to some consequences:
- Greater risk of weakened immune system
- Greater risk of disease
- Weight gain, risk of obesity and diabetes
- Lack of alertness leading to safety issues during the day
- Cardiovascular disease (heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure)
- Can lead to depression
- Lack of sex drive. Seriously, if you choose to sleep instead of having “fun time”, things are not under control… (wink).
- You age faster
- You forget things (once I put a hot teapot in the fridge and could not find it for hours – don’t be like me).
None of those sounds pleasant. In fact, none of them are good for either your short- or long-term health. “But I have kids”…”I work 60-hours week”…”I don’t have time”….” Sleeping is stupid”… Nope, not convincing because if you can’t make time for your sleep, or use some tricks to get enough, you will face declining health. Let me try to rescue you before that happens. Here are a few tips and tricks I use to get enough sleep without sacrificing my life. Pick one. Or three. You are welcome.
How to Get Better Sleep in Less Time
1. Don’t go for less time.
Don’t try to reduce the quality or quantity of hours. Instead, make sleeping your priority. Allocate less time to social media, watching TV, your hobbies but make sure you have good quality sleep. Learn more about time management and being more organized without sacrificing your sleep. Here is an awesome article how to do so.
2. Take care of the quality of your sleep.
Make sure you have no lights on in your room, the room is not too cold or warm, and the air is fresh as well as your bedding. Wear the blue light blockers in the evening because blue light emissions are disruptive. If you can’t squeeze in more time for sleep, you need to make sure you are getting the best quality of sleep.
3. Sync your bio clock with rising of the sun.
If you can go to sleep with the sun down, would be perfect too (but harder to do in the winter). If your circadian rhythms are aligned with the sunrise and sunset, your hormones will work like a clock. Yes, it means you will get better sleep!
4. Cut back on screen time.
I know, it is important to stay in touch with your family and friends, but if you are unhealthy in cranky, they won’t like you much! Turn your phone off one hour before going to sleep, and leave it outside of your bedroom.
5. Eat well and exercise regularly.
Eating sufficient amounts of protein, plenty of vegetables, healthy fats and no sugar will make your body keep your hormones even, and your sleep tight. Moving often throughout the day will keep your body energized and happy as well. If you feel like you need to supplement your diet with some natural energy boosters, consider adding some of these energy supplements.
6. Sneak in a nap.
Everybody loves to have lunch out with colleagues, friends, or significant others. If once in awhile you could replace it with a short power nap (your car or conference room? Just tell your boss you are on a break! 😉
7. Keep the schedule.
This is an oldie but goodie. It is a matter of habit, and your body will most likely to be recovering and resting well if you do it at the same time. Pick the time to go to bed and get up, and stick to it. Add this to point #3.
8. Focus on you and your sleepy time.
Meditate if you need to, start loving your time in bed, and consider it a well-deserved treat at the end of the day. Trust me, your body and soul will appreciate it.
9. Cut back on stimulators.
Caffeine, alcohol, sugar, cigarettes – all of them affect you dramatically, and the closer to bedtime you take them, the more negative the effects. They disrupt your sleep cycle and affect your REM sleep as well – the time when you recover and dream.
3 things to do for you, my friend:
Analyze your sleep and overall schedule. Think through on what you can do to make your sleep better. Try any of the tips above for 3-4 weeks consistently, and let me know how you feel!
What are your sleep routines or troubles?
Author: Anya Perry
Anya Perry battled boring diets, low energy, and declining health for over 10 years before she found what works. Now, she helps women achieve their dream state of health, fitness, and vitality… without the struggles, battles of miserable diets and yo-yo results. She can’t live without coffee and challenges.