A good night’s sleep can make large problems seem smaller. It also boosts your energy levels and mood.
A bad night’s sleep is deadly to our resilience, mood, and performance. In fact, when I recently surveyed 470 people about the greatest challenge to their positive mood in the last week – poor sleep was one of the main culprits.
Some people find falling to sleep difficult, whilst for some it is waking in the middle of the night and staring at the ceiling. Tossing and turning is frustrating and unproductive. Your mind can race with all sorts of negative thoughts.
There can be more serious consequences as well.
By regularly sleeping less than 6 hours per night, we increase our risk of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. We even increase our likelihood of premature death by 12%.
From a work perspective, poor sleep has been shown to reduce focus, attention, vigilance, and information recall.
And socialising? Don’t even go there – the last thing you want to do when tired is talk to people!
But what if you could take control of the situation, finally get a good night’s sleep and enjoy the benefits of restorative sleep and higher energy levels?
By creating new rituals and routine, you can do this.
So what is most critical to getting a good night’s sleep?
- Daily Exercise
Just 30 minutes brisk walk each day can substantially improve your capacity to sleep well. Ideally, this should be in the sunshine to boost your melatonin levels. A study published in the Mental Health and Physical Activity journal, shows that 150 minutes of exercise per week provided a 65% improvement in sleep quality to 2600 men and women aged from 18-85. This is one more reason why incorporating exercise into our daily routine is critical.
- Digital Curfew
At night, light disrupts the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm.
But not all colours of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night.
The blue light that is emitted from your smartphone, tablet, and energy efficient light bulbs are detrimental to your sleep.
Exposure to this blue light suppresses our melatonin, a hormone that influences our sleep patterns. Stephen Lockley a Harvard sleep researcher says that too much blue light in one of the main reasons that many people don’t get enough sleep.
So what can we do?
- Turn off all phones and tablets at least 60 minutes before your normal bedtime.
- Leave phones and tablets out of the bedroom to resist looking at them during the night. Read a paper based book or magazine instead.
- The latest IOS operating system has an option to vastly reduce the blue light of your phone. Go to Settings / Display & Brightness / Night Shift – then set the time span you would like this function to operate.
- There are also apps that can reduce blue light such as “Night Light”.
- Sleep routine and environment
There’s a huge list of practices which can form part of preparing for sleep, but it’s down to you to choose what work best for you. As a general rule of thumb, though, the aim is to create a routine which you can follow and an environment conducive to restful sleep.
A bedtime routine, regularly followed, signals to your body that it’s time to start winding down, which helps encourage sleep. Try drinking some warm milk, peppermint or chamomile tea. Avoid upbeat music and stimulants like cigarettes, alcohol and caffeinated drinks and trying a little bit of meditation or yoga, putting on some relaxing music or some lavender essential oil or pillow spray can all help prepare you for sleep.
You can’t will yourself to sleep. And getting frustrated at your inability to sleep doesn’t help either. Nor does glancing at the clock every few minutes. Try some meditation exercises in bed, such as paying attention to your breath, which will help clear your mind a little and take attention away from the thoughts racing around in your head. Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breathe out for 7 seconds. Listen to the sounds of nature – try “Nature Sound” in your App Store.
The Buzz Feed community was asked to nominate their best tips for sleep and from this produced their top ten tips on video. Don’t laugh – orgasms actually release stress relieving chemicals. So, get busy before nodding off! (Oh, but don’t do this every day, you don’t want masturbation to be the ONLY way you can get to sleep… makes it very awkward if you have to share a room with someone!).
Good sleep is a component of Ritual 2 of The 7 Rituals of the Resilient Leader: REFUEL DAILY: make time to eat well, rest well, and take 10,000 steps
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