In a previous blog I wrote about the importance of getting a good night's sleep to allow you to function properly and perform well.
In this blog, we'll look at what you can do to improve your sleep.
A tiny region of the brain just above the optic nerve called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (or SCN) controls the circadian rhythms.
These circadian rhythms are a 24 hour pattern of biological processes. Because they're controlled by the SCN sitting next to the optic nerve, the amount of light has a big impact on these biological rhythms.
So there's a natural in-built rhythm of wakefulness and sleep which fits in with daylight and night-time.
In other words, if there's too much light when you try to sleep, your sleep will become disrupted.
So try to keep your bedroom as dark as possible:
The sleep cycle begins with a phase of light sleep which lasts for about half an hour in most people.
Deeper sleep only kicks in after that phase of light sleep - if the 1st phase gets disrupted by noise, then you'll never enter the second deeper phase.
So keep your room quiet:
Unconcious habits form unbelievably quickly. If you watch TV, listen to radio or read in bed then don't be surprised if you find it hard to get to sleep. Subconciously doing these things becomes more appealing than sleeping, so our unconcious mind stops us sleeping!
Train your mind: reserve your bedroom for only 2 things... sleep & sex. Pretty quickly, you'll adjust unconciously so that when you go into your bedroom you'll expect to sleep.
Those circadian rhythms we looked at earlier are also determined to some degree by temperature.
After 3-4 hours of sleep the body, the body temperature falls to it's lowest point of the day.
The temperature falls at night: it's an environmental cue that influences the circadian rhythms. So make sure that your room isn't too warm, or you won't get a good night's sleep:
We've already mentioned habits.
Like it or not, we're creatures of habit - we're just wired that way.
So to optimise your sleep, get into a fixed bedtime routine:
No, really, if you can't sleep clean the toilet.
If you've done the first 5 steps and still you're lying awake tossing and turning or obsessing over your worries, get up - go clean the toilet.
Remember, you want to keep your bedroom for sleep & sex, and lying there thinking about your problems isn't going to help you sleep, so you might as well spend the time productively.
Believe it or not, there are 3 benefits to cleaning the toilet if you can't sleep:
Sleep is really important. If we don't sleep properly we build up a sleep deficit which can affect our work, our relationships and our exercise performance.
People who suffer from sleep problems have usually built up a whole load of coping mechanisms (like the TV in the room, or the music playing in the background), not realising that it's often the accumulation of these things that's contributing to their poor night's sleep.
Getting out of the old habits and into these 6 new ones can seem hard, but they can really help you to get a good night's sleep.