Sleep – Consistency is key.
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Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Far from overrated and must not be overlooked for our general health, wellbeing, and recovery. Sleep is on one hand, a necessity for survival, but if done right is key to feeling energized, de-stressed and fresh. Sleep can be categorized as good or bad and this is ultimately determined by quantity and quality.
Making sure you get enough hours of sleep in, is very key and research shows that between 7-9 hours is the most optimal window for success. The time you go to sleep, can be planned, and determined by the time you need to wake up, depending on your own personal situation - the iPhone has a great feature within the alarm setting app to help you with this, and is linked to the Apple Health app.
Even though the common theory is that you should go to sleep at 10/11pm, this is less important than having the same routine every night. For example, if you go to bed late every night and wake up later every morning, but still get your hours in, this is completely fine and down to personal preference, work or lifestyle. According to a study by Dr Carolina Marcus found that having a consistent sleep schedule improves the quality of sleep you have whilst also improving body composition and reducing the risk of heart disease. Here is more information and a great read if you want to go more in-depth: www.sleep.com/sleep-health/sleep-schedule
To help get you started with this, it can be really helpful to play with your sleep schedule and keep track of the outcome, note down personal feedback such as:
- What time did you go to sleep?
- What time did you wake up?
- How was the quality of sleep? Did you struggle to fall asleep/wake up multiple times?
- Did you fall asleep quickly?
- How do you feel in terms of energy the next day? (Rate 1-10)
- Did you feel like you needed a nap the following day?
Then you can use your own diary and feedback, to find the best sleeping schedule for you personally, and adapt this routine moving forward, and you will feel the health benefits!
Quality Deep Sleep
Deep sleep is the most important part of your sleeping cycle, and usually only equates to approximately 10-15% of your entire night's rest - this means this total amount is also very individual from one person to the next. Deep sleep is so integral because it strengthens your immune system, detoxifies your brain, and enables the body's cells to repair, as well as improving your memory and new learnings from the day. Keeping a consistent sleeping schedule will help improve the amount of deep sleep you have, as will cutting down caffeine and alcohol late in the day, not eating too close to bedtime and avoiding bright blue lights right before you sleep. There are multiple wearable sleep trackers out there that can help you monitor your sleep, so you can always give one of those a try, if you are not seeing an improvement in the way you're feeling.
No Blue Light Before Sleep
Your mobile phone (and TV and lights in general) give off blue light wavelengths that are great for stimulating your mind during daylight but can have a negative effect on your sleep experience. Research done by Harvard University and the University of Toronto has shown that exposure to blue light suppresses melatonin, and good levels of melatonin in the body is directly linked to good quality sleep.
Regardless of blue light or not, naturally you should be trying to wind down and not do too much in those couple of hours before you sleep but it is not always that simple, so there are multiple things that you can actively do to reduce the amount of blue light the body consumes the closer you get to bedtime. The first is by changing settings on your technical devices, here is a great article explaining how to reduce blue light from your iPhone (I am sure other devices have similar possibilities): thlsleep.com/blogs/sleep/blue-light-filter-iphone. Other options include blue light blocking glasses (good if you are also watching TV) and blue light blocking screen protector.
As a former professional athlete that was traveling across a multitude of time zones week-to-week, sleep became something that I needed to perfect in order for my body to adjust quickly to different conditions and also effectively recover from the physicality of the job. Regardless of whether you are an athlete, retired, working 9-5, a stay-at-home parent, hustling with 2 jobs, or a full-time student, effective sleep is necessary for the mind and body to recover, release tension and stress and fully relax. So regardless of what time you go to sleep, try to make your schedule and total amount of sleep consistent and this will reduce fatigue (no more naps for those of you who are nappers!) and give you constant daily freshness.
Give it a try, see what's best for you and you won’t regret the change!