Exercise and nutrition advice dominates the health and fitness sphere. While those domains are essential to our wellbeing, there are more important factors. Two more to be specific—breathing and sleeping. If you’re reading this you’re still breathing, so we’ll focus on that another time. Let’s talk about sleep.
Sleep is arguably one of the most overlooked pieces of health and fitness. Yet of all the pieces, it may have the greatest influence on just about every bodily function. Our bodies are incredibly active during sleep as they undergo an array and growth and restorative processes necessary to keep the mind and body healthy.
Here are several tips to get a better night’s sleep.
Eat Little to No Refined Carbs
Did you really think nutrition wouldn’t feature?! When you eat sugary, refined carbs (white bread, baking, sweets, chocolate, etc.) you will have trouble falling asleep and your sleep patterns will be disrupted when you do finally nod off. This may have to do with erratic insulin levels.
Switch Off the Blue Light
Phones, tablets, TVs, computers and lights all emit blue light, and blue light stimulates the mind while making it feel that it’s daytime. This makes falling asleep more difficult by disrupting your circadian rhythm.
Use the night shift function on your devices as soon as sunset passes, and dim the lights in the 30-60 minutes before bed time.
No More Nightcaps
You may think that you sleep better after having a drink, but all you’re doing is knocking yourself out. That’s different to having restorative sleep. It takes about an hour for the body to metabolise one ounce of alcohol (about one shot), and research has shown that alcohol right before bed triggers the same disruptions to sleep as electric shocks would! Avoid the nightcap, or time it better.
All those scatter cushions look pretty (to some), but unless they end up on the floor before bed, they’re disrupting your sleep. It’s best to have your spine in a neutral position and to have little to no stuff around you on the bed to rest peacefully.
Sleep on your Back or Side
Sleeping on your stomach puts the spine, especially at the neck, in an unnatural position. While it may not directly affect the quality of your sleep, sleeping on your back or side is better for your health in the long term, and that’s precisely what we’re after: Lifelong health and fitness.