We bet you clicked on this article expecting to see bodyweight exercises, protein shake recipes, or supplement recommendations. Well get ready to have your world rocked because this is actually about something far more crucial to fitness, but much less discussed: sleep.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: sleep is as crucial to optimal fitness as diet and exercise. It powers and processes all the hard work you put in at the gym and in the kitchen, and yet too many people who meticulously plan their meals and execute their workouts don’t apply the same energy to upping their sleep game.
What you can do
Fortunately, improving your sleep hygiene is simple, and with just a few small adjustments you can make a world of difference in the quality of your rest. Here are our top 8 tips for sleeping better each night, so that you can get your personal best in the morning:
Keep things cool.
- When your core temperature drops, it’s a signal to your body to start shutting things down for the day. To help ease yourself into the resting process, without feeling like an icicle, of course, the ideal room temperature for sleep is about 65 degrees.
- It’s not by random choice that we shut off the lights when it’s time to get some shuteye. Dark rooms not only help you fall asleep but also improve overall sleep quality. So try to make your bedroom as dark as possible, whether that means buying blackout shades, wearing an eye mask, or putting a cloth over any electronics or blinking lights that can’t be removed.
But enjoy some noise.
- White noise, that is. Noise pollution can be as detrimental to your sleep quality as sound pollution, so it’s important to take action to keep things quiet. If you can’t control the ambient sound in your sleeping environment, then cover any excess noise with a fan, white noise machine, or even a white noise app.
Be a creature of habit.
- Sure, sometimes life can’t always be predictable. But, as much as possible, your bedtime and waking time should be. Going to bed and waking up at the same times each day helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythms, which in turn makes it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up naturally. There’s even evidence that doing so may help with weight loss! Try setting a “sleep alarm” to remind yourself that it’s time to turn in.
No night noshing.
- Eating a big meal right before bed can make it difficult to fall asleep, and make your sleep less restful once you do doze off. For optimal rest, aim to stop eating at least two hours before bed, and be sure to avoid all caffeine and alcohol as bedtime approaches as both are stimulants.
Say no to the screen.
- We know, we know, it can feel painful to part with your smartphone, but scrolling through your Instagram feed right before bed is a recipe for a restless night. The blue light from our phones—and other screens, like TVs, laptops, and tablets—tells our body’s internal rhythms that it’s time to wake up, and start revving our body up right when it’s time to wind down. Instead, try reading an old-fashioned book, or doing some meditating or another relaxing activity, and if possible keep all electronics out of the bedroom—try using an old-fashioned alarm clock near your bed and charging your phone in the kitchen.
- Hydration is always important, and before bed is no different. Drinking ½ a liter of water just before bed is a great way to replenish the fluids that your body lost during the day and help aid in the recovery process that occurs while you’re asleep. Of course, don’t go overboard—nobody likes having to make 3 AM bathroom trips.
Stretch it out.
- Getting in a little bit of movement before bed, like foam rolling and stretching, is a great way to wind down and can help you fall asleep faster. Avoid any sort of strenuous physical activity, which can have the opposite effect and amp you up, and instead go for a gentle stretching routine. It’s a relaxing and meditative activity that can improve sleep while also easing tired and tight muscles.