Do you wake up tired?
Struggle to get to sleep?
Well improving your quality of sleep is one of the best things you can do.
Getting sleep is not only critical for our health it’s also needed for us to maximise our full potential and achieve our goals.
How many times have you bragged (or heard someone brag) about the lack of sleep you’ve had?
“I had two hours sleep last night, work is so busy”
With research and scientific tests highlighting that sleep deprivation can damage your long term health, sleeping less so you can ‘get more done’ isn’t something to be be bragging about.
Where has this ‘Macho’ mindset behind lack of sleep come from?
We almost celebrate sleep deprivation like it’s a sign of commitment to something we’re trying to achieve.
What Does Lack of Sleep Do To Us?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently ran a study on how much sleep deprivation can effect us.
The effects differ from person to person but typically they found that a bad nights sleep contributed to lack of concentration, poor motivation and even bad performance.
Some students they ran the test on said a heavy hangover was more manageable than a poor nights sleep.
I can relate.
In fact sleep deprivation has also been highlighted as a core reason behind depression.
Personally, a bad nights sleep for me makes the next day difficult. It’s ok to take that mindset of ‘push through it, drink more coffee and man up’ but your body will consistently remind you that it needs replenishing.
When I first started my online business 6 years ago I took this approach.
Every CEO, Business Owner and person who had reached the level of success I wanted too typically spoke about ‘hustle’. They spoke about putting in the work.
For a young, naive 19 year old to hear that, ‘hustle’ simply meant sleep less.
I tried reducing my sleep to 5 hours, sometimes 3 hours, working all day and night. I needed to get this business off the ground, I needed to make it successful.
Looking back, the issue was the lack of sleep didn’t contribute to anything positive. It meant I slept less, performed worse, I couldn’t concentrate and I thought staring at my laptop was me working.
As I’ve matured and as years have progressed within my business I now realise hustle and hard work is important. But so is sleep, exercise, family and disconnecting.
I can get more work done now in 4 hours from the systems I’ve put in place and the mindset I’ve developed than I did sleeping 4 hours a night back when I was 19.
Here are some key effects of lack of sleep.
- It Can Lead To Serious Health Issues
- It Can Lower Your Testosterone Levels
- It Kills Your Sex Drive
- It’s A Core Symptom Behind Depression
- It Effects Your Knowledge
- It Causes Car Accidents
- It Effects The Way You Look (Skin)
- It Causes Slight Memory Loss
- It Can Contribute To Weight Gain
- It Can Cause Low Grades & Bad Performance
That right there is a small selection of effects scientifically tested caused by sleep deprivation.
It of course differs from person to person, but it would be very unlikely that you don’t suffer with at least one of them when you get a bad nights sleep.
But how can we improve our sleep?
How can we function at our full potential?
Well a good nights sleep can be split into two core elements.
Your Quality of Sleep
Typically the focus is put solely on the amount of hours you sleep.
Have you ever gone to bed early, got a good 8-10 hours sleep but still woke up sluggish? You still feel like you need more?
Poor sleep quality equally contributes to the main effects lack of sleep causes.
You may think you got a solid 8 hours of shut eye but were you completely rested?
Feeling anxious or stressed before falling asleep or simply falling asleep with the TV still on can contribute to a bad nights sleep.
A good night time routine, optimising your sleep and it’s environment can all contribute to a good nights sleep.
Apps like Sleep Cycle give you data on how effectively you slept. Of course it isn’t 100% accurate but it gives you data of how well you slept each day.
I’ll share with you a few more ways to improve your quality of sleep towards the end of this article.
The Amount You Sleep
The other thing to consider is the amount of hours you’re getting per night.
They say the average amount an Adult between 26 – 64 should get around 7-9 hours sleep a night.
It obviously differs from person to person and self experimentation is key but 7-9 hours is a good figure to aim for.
I used to sleep a lot, probably over 10 hours a night.
I was young, I was lazy and to be quite honest with you I was suffering with depression.
10 hours a night might sound good from an outside perspective but I still felt terrible.
Compare that with my routine today, I tend to get about 6-8 hours sleep and I feel awesome. Anything over 8 hours and I feel lazy (unless I needed the catch up) and anything under 6 hours and I feel deprived.
I experimented what works for me and I recommend you do too.
10 Ways To Get A Better Nights Sleep
So what are some of the methods, some of the ‘hacks’ to get a better night sleep?
Some of the ones I recommend aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but they’re probably the most important.
Stripping back your bad habits and going back to basics is a good place to start.
All of these methods I recommend to help you get a better nights sleep are things I’ve tried and things that have worked for me.
1. Your Bedtime Routine
Think back to when you were a child.
You were hopefully put to bed early, after a bath or shower, wearing comfortable Pjamas and once you’d had a story read to you.
If your childhood didn’t reflect that think about how you’d treat your own children when putting them to bed.
It’s very rare that you’d want to put them to bed wearing their pants from the day before, with their mobile phones on the pillow next to them falling asleep to Breaking Bad.
The routine you go through before bed will massively impact the quality of sleep you get.
So many of us will work late or watch TV till late. We’ll head to the bedroom, clean our teeth, strip down to our underwear, put the TV on, check social media one last time and then fall asleep half way through an episode.
It’s a routine so many of us fall into (myself included) but it’s one that massively effects how good you feel in the morning.
Start small, maybe having a shower (cold showers work great) before bed, avoid the TV and replace it with a book or something both you and your partner will enjoy (you know what I’m talking about!)
You want to spend the final hour of your day getting into a relaxed state ready for bed.
If you go to bed anxious or stressed it’s going to effect your sleep, in turn effecting how you feel in the morning.
2. Avoid Blue Light (Your Phone Being The Main Culprit)
In fact, how often do you look at your phone before you go to bed?
I’m not going to go all scientific on you but exposure to blue light before bed can have a big impact on your sleep.
Even if you use your phone as an alarm you should aim to avoid looking at it before closing your eyes ready for your nights rest.
Turn your phone off, put it on aeroplane mode, put it in a drawer or in another room and avoid being exposed to it before (or during) your night.
I was a big culprit of this, checking my phone during the night (for the time) and then not only being exposed to blue light but being distracted by the emails I was notified with.
If you really do struggle to be within 5 metres of your phone utilise Apple’s new ‘Night Shift Mode’.
Here’s how to enable it.
Go To Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift.
If you can’t see the Night Shift option make sure you update your phone.
You can also get certain gadgets and accessories that reduce the amount of blue light you’re exposed too when looking at your phone or tablet before bed.
But the easiest and most affordable way is to simply discipline yourself to not use your devices at least an hour before bed.
3. Stop Thinking About Sleep
We often put a lot of pressure on sleep, especially if we have to wake up early for an important task.
Insomnia is something that effects a lot of people, again putting more stress on being able to sleep.
With the daily stresses, fears and worries we let build up throughout the day it becomes extremely difficult to fall asleep.
The issue is we’re fighting a losing battle when we think about how we struggle to fall asleep.
“Argh I can’t sleep”
“I’ve been laying here for hours now, I can’t sleep!”
“There’s only 4 hours until I have to be up again, what’s the point in going to sleep now”
These are all thoughts that cross our mind when we struggle to fall asleep, but these thoughts will simply reinforce the ability to not be able to sleep…
You control your thoughts.
If I said think of a Pink Elephant, only you could do so, only you could control that thought of a pink elephant.
When you struggle to fall asleep stop thinking about it so much. Let it be. Focus more on winding down, on your breath.
Keep it simple. Move away from the obsession of having to sleep and you’ll find you’ll improve the quality of your sleep massively.
4. The Two S’s (Sleep & Sex)
Sorry Mum but the bedroom should serve the sole purpose of the two S’s.
Sleep and Sex.
We’re all guilty of using the bedroom as a home cinema, an office, a library… but if it became an environment that served two purposes it would make things a whole lot easier.
Someone I interviewed for the Ultimate Man Podcast said the best decision he ever made was taking the TV out of the bedroom.
It allowed him to connect better with his Wife, their sex life improved, because of this his testosterone did and most importantly his quality of sleep improved also.
The environment you sleep in has a huge impact on your sleep and making it a place to simply sleep (and have sex) will have a huge impact.
5. The Darkness
Just like point 4 if the room isn’t dark it’s going to effect your sleep.
Ever tried getting a good nights sleep on a bench in a busy train station? It ain’t happening…
You need to create the perfect environment to sleep in, an environment that’s built for sleeping.
Try and seal as much light as possible, either using an eye mask or investing in some good blackout curtains or shades.
Removing all electronic equipment also helps keep the room dark as lights from chargers, TV’s and tablets can have a distraction on your nights sleep.
All in all the darker you can make the room the better. You may think closing your eyes creates the darkness but any light source can act as a distraction.
6. Drop The Caffeine & Try Sugar Before Bed
Ok, I don’t mean indulging in 3 packs of Oreo’s but stopping your caffeine in take before 4pm and having Raw Honey has been tested to improve your quality of sleep alongside making you feeling more energetic when you wake up.
Believe it or not your brain uses a lot of energy whilst resting and one way to help your brain function better a night is to have a little extra sugar.
Raw Honey is a good source of sugar that will help keep your brain functioning throughout sleep and will also make you feel less sluggish in the morning.
As with anything it’s best to experiment yourself and I was certainly skeptical when I first heard this.
But stopping the coffee at 4pm (about 7 hours before I sleep) and having sugar (Raw Honey) before bed has improved my sleep quality and how I feel in the morning.
7. Manage Your Emotions Throughout The Day
Stressed out, anxious, worried people have worse sleep than relaxed, happy, calm people.
There’s no denying that.
If you’re worrying about something or if you’ve had a stressful day and most importantly you haven’t dealt with those emotions it’s going to effect the ability to fall asleep alongside how well you sleep.
You need to start putting the work in throughout the day.
Drop all worries, all anxiety and keep calm in some of the most stressful situations.
Practicing meditation, calming your mind and living in the now (being present) with practice will allow you to manage your emotions better.
When your have your emotions under control throughout the day and before you fall asleep you’ll discover that it becomes super easy to not only fall asleep, but you also have a more peaceful nights kip.
8. Program Your Sleep Pattern
If you wake up at a certain time every day you’ve probably realised you quickly become your own alarm clock.
If you wake up at 6:30am for work Monday – Friday, even when you turn your alarm off at the weekends you still wake up around that time.
Keeping a consistent sleeping schedule can have a big impact on how well you sleep.
Think about when you travel and often times the jet lag you endure. Sleeping at a certain time and getting a good nights sleep becomes extremely difficult.
This is simply due to the fact our body clocks have been reset and we’re off schedule.
Keep consistent with the times you go to bed and the times you wake up and your body will repay you for it.
It will rest better throughout the time you’re asleep and it will help you fall asleep and wake up.
I tend to always go to bed between 10pm and 11pm and always wake up between 5am and 6am.
Decide on a sleep pattern that suits your lifestyle and stick to it. Your body clock will adapt and it will improve your sleep quality because of it.
9. Have A Shower/Bath
This all adds to the night time routine you put yourself through and a shower or bath is a good way to wind down.
That feeling of relaxing, getting washed, dried and ready for bed fresh and clean automatically sets you up for a better nights sleep.
Personally I prefer cold showers (I’m f*cking tough like that)
Well your body temperature will impact your sleep. A warm shower or bath often raises your body temperature and this in turn can have an impact on how well you fall asleep.
You should also keep your room cool but if that’s hard to do a cold shower should do the trick.
A study by researchers in Lille (France) found that people fell asleep faster and had a better nights sleep when they had lower body temperature, often from taking a cold shower before bed.
10. Improve Your Morning Routine
This may confuse you at first but having no structure to your morning can mess with your sleep.
If you have nothing to look forward to when you wake up, if you’re feel no excitement or if you’re not feeling great about yourself it’s going to make sleep more sluggish. It’s also going to make it hard to wake up in the morning.
When you have a good routine in place and you’ve planned ahead you go to sleep faster, you sleep better and you wake up easier.
For me a simple morning routine involves writing (a topic that inspires me), reading, exercise and some form of meditation (typically sitting in silence for a few minutes – nothing too major).
This morning routine sets me up for a positive day and it makes it easier to unwind at night times also.
Think about things you can do in the morning that put you in the right mindset.
Rehydration is also key, so try drinking at least a pint of water when you first wake up (your body loses fluids when you’re asleep).
For more about improving your morning routine this article might help.
So there we have it, what you can do to get a better nights sleep.
As with anything it’s all about experimentation.
I don’t expect you to instantly ditch the TV’s, stop using your phone before bed, take super long cold showers and have sex every night…
Take this article as a guide to act upon some of the points made and start to improve upon your nights sleep.
I really can’t stress the importance of sleeping well, as sleep deprivation has some shocking short term and long term effects.
Don’t think you’re the man because you sleep less.
This was originally published on my personal blog here.
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Comment below if you have any questions or want to add anything that works for you.
You can also listen to this post in audio format below.