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Sleep Part 2: Strategies to Improve Sleep

As we mentioned last week, most folks require 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night for improved health, wellness, and performance. There are a few strategies to improve sleep quality and duration. Establishing a "sleep hygiene" routine is a highly effective way to enhance sleep consistently. Try adding the following tips and tricks into your routine:

  • Set a sleep schedule:

    • Try to aim to get into bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning (even on the weekends); this helps your body regulate a sleep rhythm.

  • Establish a pre-sleep routine:

    • Spend a few moments performing relaxing activities before bed to help calm your body and mind in prep for sleep. Sample activities include: taking a hot shower, reading, journaling, meditating, foam rolling, or stretching.

  • Decrease screen time:

    • The blue light and backlight emitted from screens disrupt our brains' normal nighttime rhythm. Try turning off all screens, ideally 2 hours before bedtime and a minimum of 30 minutes before bed. If you have a hard time with screen cut-off, try to utilize blue blocker glasses. Try to keep all-screen devices out of your bedroom (or at least out of arms reach from your bed.)

  • Establish a caffeine cut-off:

    • Consuming caffeine late into the day can hugely impact your ability to fall asleep at your established bedtime. Folks highly sensitive to caffeine should aim for a 12:0pm cut-off. Those with higher tolerance should aim to finish all caffeine by 3:30 pm.

  • Optimize bedroom sleep conditions:

    • Set yourself up to limit disruption in the night by using blackout curtains to block out bright light and use a white noise/sound machine to filter out sound. Set your thermostat to a cooler temperature to prevent overheating at night.

  • Avoid napping throughout the day:

    • Mid-day naps can push back our regular sleep schedule. If a power nap is necessary to get you through the afternoon slump, limit it to 30 minutes or less.

  • Move your body:

    • The more activity and exercise you get throughout leads to a faster time to fall asleep, more time spent in deep sleep, and less frequent wake-ups in the night. Try to save vigours activity for morning or mid-day as it can be difficult to calm your body and mind following a high-intensity effort.

  • What to do if you wake in the night?

    • Avoid looking at screens if you wake up; this can trigger our brain to start the wake-up process even further.

    • Avoid looking at the clock, which can trigger a stress response to the time left until you are required to wake up.

    • Try to focus on your breathing to calm down your body and mind.

    • Try to perform a body scan to relax and release areas of your body that are holding tension.

Prioritizing sleep can dramatically impact your performance at work, physical activities, overall mood, and, in turn, relationships. Sleep should be at the forefront of establishing new health-promoting behaviors, overcoming injury, or training a fitness-related goal. If you have questions about how to improve your sleep, reach out. We are here to help or guide you to the appropriate resources.

Rest well, Nicole

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