Sleep is important.
You know it. I know it.
Yet most of the time, neither of us get enough sleep.
Between staying up too late and getting up early to get our miles, runners are often guilty of training sleep for miles on a regular basis.
And that trade isn’t doing us any favors.
Gains Are Made in Bed
I’ve talked about the value of sleep before.
The moral of the story is that our bodies get stronger while we are sleeping.
So if you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not maximizing the gains you are making while you’re training.
If you’re going to give your all in training, shouldn’t you try to set yourself up for maximal success by getting enough sleep at night?
Of course you should!
But this is real life. And as such, what you should do and what you actually do are often two different things.
Quality vs Quantity: How to Improve Your Sleep Quality
Getting more sleep is a great idea in theory, but in practice that can be a real struggle.
So if you can’t get more quantity, can you improve your quality?
And it’s not that difficult either.
I’ve been experimenting with a few “sleep hacks” of late, and I am noticing a difference.
And these “hacks” are backed by science.
So if you could benefit by stepping up you sleep game, and you know you could, try adding a few of these suggestions into your routine to improve your sleep quality starting tonight.
Get Some Blue Blockers
Our bodies are designed to start to fall asleep after the sun goes down.
But with lights, and especially with the blue lights from our devices, our bodies get confused and don’t release the melatonin we need to start falling asleep.
Blue lights from our phones, tablets, and laptops slow/stop the release of melatonin into our blood. That is a fact.
Blue blockers do just what they claim to do: they block the blue light from our eyes which allow the melatonin to release.
In a perfect world, we’d all put our phones away after dinner and turn the TV off for an hour or two before we go to bed.
But you know that’s not happening at your house, just like it’s not happening at mine.
Since I got my blue blockers a few weeks ago, I’ve noticed a dramatic improvement of the quality of my sleep.
I’m waking up on time. I’m not struggling to stay awake and focused during the day. And I’m falling asleep almost as soon as I jump in the bed.
That can’t all be coincidence.
No Caffeine After 2 pm
I’ve often been skeptical of the power of caffeine to keep me awake.
I mean, I’ve literally fallen asleep while sitting on the couch drinking a cup of coffee.
Because of that, I used to think nothing of drinking coffee from the moment I woke up until well into the evening.
Turns out, even if I didn’t feel more alert/awake because of the caffeine, my body did.
Caffeine too close to bedtime limits the amount of restful sleep we are getting, which hinders our recovery from the days activities.
Limit your caffeine after lunch, and cut it off completely after about 2 pm, and you might be surprised that you don’t need as much coffee to stay alert during the day.
Funny how that works out, eh?
No Night Cap
I don’t know about you, but I used to feel like a drink before bed was the key to a good night’s sleep.
Yeah, not so much.
The process of breaking down alcohol definitley impacts sleep quality. So even if a drink or two helps you fall asleep when your head hits the pillow, it’s a much more restless sleep than if you go to bed sober.
Have a drink at happy hour, and after that stick to non-alcoholic drinks.
Is the Sum Greater Than the Parts?
I’ve been practicing all three of these “sleep hacks” for the past few weeks, and I have to say that the quality of my sleep is dramatically improved.
And I wonder if one of the reasons I’m sleeping better has to do with all of these things working together?
A year ago at this time, I’d still be drinking coffee well past 4 o’clock in the evening.
Then, after dinner, I’d pour myself a drink and watch some TV or mess around on my phone until bed time.
Too much caffeine plus all out exposure to blue lights plus a drink to try and take the edge off…
Yeah, no wonder I wasn’t sleeping very well!
But now that I’m finished drinking coffee in the early afternoon, don’t have any alcohol after dinner, and am blue light free after 7 pm, I’m sleeping like a baby.
You want to call it all a coincidence?
That’s fine. But it’s working for me.
If you’d like to improve your sleep, I’d encourage you to try this trifecta as well.
You might be surprised at how much more rested you’ll be.
How Would You Rate the Quality & Quantity of Your Sleep Right Now?
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