One of my favourite features of my Fitbit is its sleep tracker. Sleep is incredibly important for both general health and athletic performance. Lack of sleep has been linked as a risk factor to weight gain, high blood pressure and diabetes and making sure you get enough sleep can improve your immune function and athletic performance.
By tracking my sleep I realised that I was basically never getting enough. Going to bed at midnight and getting up at 7 every morning meant I was tracking less than 7 hours sleep, and I could also see when I wasn’t getting good enough quality sleep. Going to bed earlier and making some changes has meant that I now get around 8 hours a night and they are much better quality. I have noticed a change in my energy levels, and I’ve also lost a stone and a half in the last 6 months, though I can’t attribute that solely to sleep, more sleep has definitely been part of my healthier plan!
So today I thought I would share a few tips for getting more sleep, and better quality sleep that I’ve used.
- Think about your bed. If your mattress is 10 years old and springs are sticking in your back then you’re not going to sleep well. A new mattress is probably the best investment you could make for a good nights sleep. I use a memory foam mattress topper over a regular mattress.
- Wind down before bed. Working right up until 10 minutes before bed, watching Walking Dead last thing at night so you spend all night dreaming about being chased by Zombies or playing Candy Crush in bed will not send you off to sleep relaxed. Spend at least 30 minutes doing something less stimulating, have a bath, read a book with a hot (not caffeinated!) drink and chill out.
- Cut out the caffeine. It sounds obvious, I mean you wouldn’t have a cup of coffee right before bed, but actually caffeine much earlier in the day can affect your sleep quality. I stopped drinking caffeine in the afternoons and the quality of my sleep improved dramatically
- Think about light. Especially during the Summer, are your curtains thick enough? I started sleeping in an eye mask and found my sleep quality improved a lot.
- Create a calming environment. I use a lavender pillow and room spray and also attempt to keep my bedroom at least reasonably tidy so I’m not actually falling over things at least!
It’s easy to think of sleep as something of a luxury, especially when we’re busy and trying to find time for work, social activities, gym visits and training sessions, but you could find that going to bed an hour earlier each night will improve your performance at work, and at the gym.