Tuesday, 21 May 2019

What are some sleep hacks and tips?

What are some sleep hacks and tips? This is a great question and one that I’ve written about before We all know that sleep is important

But I don’t think many of us realise just how important it is Among other things a good night’s sleep promotes skin health, improves athletic performance, increases testosterone, encourages healthy cell division (helps prevent cancer) and can even improve your ability to learn new motor skills by 20% (an important benefit for tennis players and athletes) I’m lucky enough to never have had a problem with insomnia or other sleep issues However, long flights, staying in hotels and dealing with jet lag while traveling the globe for tennis and work poses a challenge even for a heavy sleeper like me So over the years I’ve developed a few simple techniques to improving my sleep quality

So without further ado here are 11 Tips and Hacks I use for improving the sleeping one third of my life Enjoy Avoid artificial light after sundown Studies have shown that exposure to artificial light in the evening can be bad for your health and sleep The blue light emitted from technology like your phone, television and computer suppress the release of melatonin and throws off your body’s biological clock (the circadian rhythm)

I try to avoid screens as much as possible at night but when that’s not possible I use an app called flux on my phone and computer It adjusts the colour and brightness of the screen reducing the amount of blue light my body takes in Don’t drink coffee before bed This should be pretty self explanatory

Caffeine is not a sleep aid so stay away from caffeinated drinks and food before I stop drinking coffee around 3pm but if you’re sensitive to the stuff you may want to avoid it up 8+ hours before bedtime Exercise I do some form of training almost every day (tennis, sprints, intervals, etc) and because of this my body is physically ready for restful sleep

Research shows that some of the many benefits of exercise are improvements to sleep patterns, and the quality of sleep you get (stimulates longer periods of “slow-wave” sleep) If I can’t get out on the tennis court I’ll often do a tough hour of yoga in the morning or a more relaxing round in the evening (no later than 2 – 3 hours before bed) Eat a healthy high fat and protein dominated dinner I’m not quite sure why this works but when I eat a protein rich dinner (3 – 4 hours before bed) such as steak with vegetables and salad drizzled with healthy high fat oils I fall asleep faster and deeper I Don’t know the science but I suspect this works because our bodies use combination of long burning healthy fat and protein to repair muscles, grow new tissue and improve our immune system

I use a combination of olive oil, coconut oil and MCT oil in my food for my healthy fats Supplement melatonin before going to sleep Melatonin is a sleep hormone that tells your body it’s time to sleep It occurs naturally in the body with the onset of darkness but because of all the electric light surrounding us the release of melatonin often shifts To counter this I take 1 – 3 mgs of melatonin about one hour before bed

This is also a great travel “hack” to deal with jet lag No long term negative effects have been found but I cycle my intake of melatonin to make sure my body doesn’t become reliant on it Have a pre-sleep snack Having a quick and healthy snack before bed boosts serotonin levels, and prevents low blood sugar while also increasing cell repair and aiding heart function while sleeping I eat a few cashews, walnuts and brazil nuts along with a spoon of organic almond butter before bed

It tastes good, helps me sleep and has the positive side effect of making me feel better in the morning My ‘knock out’ sleep aid concoction If I’m really in the need of a good night sleep I’ll make a special bedtime drink that knocks me out cold I’ve used a variation of this for years but here is the latest version Mix and stir the following in a cup of hot water or chamomile tea and drink right before bed

(A simpler and better tasting version of this concoction is just the apple cider vinegar and organic honey mixed together in hot water or tea) Apple Cider Vinegar: 2 Tablespoons Raw Organic Honey: 1 Tablespoon Linseed oil: 1 tablespoon Poppy extract: 10 – 15 drops Chamomile or Yogi Bedtime tea Make your room as dark as possible If possible sleep in a pitch-black room Block out as many light sources you can including light from outside like street lamps and light from inside like LED’s

If you live in a city or a place where the sun is up all night during the summer like Norway, you should get some blackout curtains Think of this as trying to recreate the sleeping conditions from thousands of years ago before artificial light that our bodies evolved for Turn off phone or move away from bed I find that turning my phone off, setting it in flight mode or moving it away from my bed has a noticeable effect on my sleep My guess is that EMFs can disturb sleep although I’m not sure if this has been scientifically proven

Could be a placebo but either way it works for me Keep your room cool The ideal temperature for sleep will depend on your personal preference so experiment to find out what works for you However, a cool room somewhere in the range of 18°C – 21°C is a good place to start I prefer my room to be about 20°C

Meditate while in bed As I’ve mentioned before, meditation is part of my daily routine But a little trick I use is to also meditate while in bed I just relax my body and pay attention to my breath Either I end up in deep meditation or I fall asleep or both

Either way it’s a win! This is a great “sleep hack” if you have trouble falling asleep Give it a try Thanks for reading! I hope the above compilation of tips will help give you a better night’s sleep It goes without saying that I’m not a doctor so please consult a specialist if you’re having real issues sleeping Finally, thank you to all the trainers, friends and writers I’ve learned from over the years for helping me figure this stuff out

You’ve saved me from many a night’s bad sleep

« »