Dude, when you average 4 hours of sleep a night for only 5 days, you will develop the same level of cognitive impairment as if you had been awake for 24 hours; equivalent to being legally drunk. So you end up doing strange “drunk-sober” shit like walking into the same toilet cubicle as your boss…unintentionally.
So what are the best ways for you to:
- normalise your sleeping patterns;
- get out of the sleep deficit that you’re rapidly maxing out; and
- stop doing weird career-limiting and social-life destroying shit.
Follow these 9 common-sense tips for improving both the quality and quantity of your sleep and you’ll be punch-sober from sleep in no time.
1. GET ENOUGH
- Studies show that you need between 7 to 9 hours’ sleep a night in order for your body and mind to function optimally.
- When you’ve accumulated a “sleep deficit” -by functioning on 5 to 6 hours of sleep for a period of time- the amount of sleep you need to rectify this deficit may vary. For example, you may need several nights’ extended sleep, such as 9 to 10 hours, in order to reduce your sleep deficit.
- Pay attention to your body, your sleeping patterns and your sleep deficit patterns so that you can work out a sleeping cycle best suited to you and your individual circumstances…think of it as a banking account into which you make appropriate deposits and withdrawals; you don’t want to raid that ATM and mess it up permanently.
2. GET ACTIVE
- Yes, you’ve heard it before, physical exercise is the best counter-insurgent to sleep-destroying mental fatigue and depression.
- Aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week, will make a big difference to the quality and quantity of sleep that you get. Anything that gets the heart pumping- jogging, lifting, climbing your office stairs, dancing, twerking or hounding-down twerkers with a stick- will get the job done.
- Vigorous aerobic exercise in the late afternoon or early evening is recorded as being the most beneficial for peaceful sleep since it raises your body temperature for several hours thereafter. Several studies have concluded that the drop in your internal temperature, approximately 5 to 6 hours after exercise, induces peaceful sleep.
- Exercising vigorously right before or within 2 to 3 hours of going to bed, can make it harder for you to fall asleep since it stimulates your heart, brain and muscles, and raises your body temperature.
- Staying active will also prevent your developing weight-exacerbated conditions in later life that affect your sleep, such as sleep apnoea.
3. GET HUNGRY
- Your body’s digestive processes use energy so eat your last meal 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed and stay the hell away from highly refined sugars and carbohydrates.
- If you go to bed on a full stomach, particularly with the wrong kind of food inside of you, your body is going to spend all of its energy digesting badass food when it could be used to repair and regenerate your awesome cells.
- When you eat too much or too soon before bed, you’re going to wake up with a food hangover… like when you’ve drunk a bottle of tequila, just without the tequila part. If you don’t notice this and you tend to eat a lot before bed, you probably have chronic food hangovers that have become your “normal” state of being. Change the amount and quality of food you eat, particularly before bed, and you’ll see just how abnormal your “normal” was.
- Eating too much before bed packs your stomach to the brim with food and, when you lie down, all of that nasty stomach acid gets pushed into your oesophagus, commonly causing gastroesophageal reflux (more commonly known as heartburn). Eating long before bed will reduce the chances of your developing heartburn and will improve your sleep.
- Being too hungry during sleep can be just as disruptive as being too full. If you do feel hungry before bed, eat foods which contain tryptophan; a sleep promoting substance, and combine these with small portions of healthy carbohydrates.
- Tryptophan rich foods: nuts, seeds, mangoes, bananas, grapes, papaya, oranges, grapefruit, and plums, spinach, yams, sweet potatoes, corn, butternut, green peas, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, asparagus, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, pumpkin, celery and beets.
- Healthy carbohydrates: whole-grain breads, crackers and cereal,
whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, wild rice and oats.
4. GET (RE)HYDRATED
- You know that dream you have when you spend the whole night swimming in a pool and, for the life of you, you can’t get one sip of water into your mouth? Well, your body goes through its longest spell of dehydration when you’re asleep. When you’re thirsty, your body will not focus on repairing and renewing itself because it will be preoccupied with the physical discomfort of thirst, and you’ll toss and turn the whole night long.
- Drink about 500 ml of water or herbal tea (chamomile, valerian, peppermint, lavender) every night about 90 minutes before you go to bed (any later than this and you’ll have broken sleep visiting the loo or you’ll spend the night dreaming about the epic failure that was Waterworld.)
- Drink another 500 ml of water first thing in the morning when you get up; it’s going to be nauseating at first but push through it. For you to function properly, you need to flush out built-up toxins and rehydrate your brain. If you forget to drink water in the morning, set up your environment so that you are constantly reminded of it by, for example, keeping a glass of water on your beside table or in the bathroom.
- Cut out alcohol and caffeine (coffee, black tea, chocolate, coke) at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime. Not only do these badass (as in, literally bad, and not cool) items interfere with your sleep by artificially stimulating your brain, but they dehydrate your body which, again, leaves you thirsty and interferes with the quality of your sleep.
5. GET NAKED
- Make sure that your sleep get up, whether it’s your birthday suit or a onesie, is optimal for your body to regulate its temperature. The physical discomfort of being either too hot or too cold will make you toss and turn as your body tries to self-regulate.
6. GET IT ON
- Once you’re naked you might as well get it on as well. Sex, whether going solo or with your significant other, is a great stress reliever and sleep inducer. After orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released, which is responsible for the feelings of relaxation and sleepiness after sex…so put your partner, or your hand, to work and get it on.
7. GET DEEP
- Meditation of any form is a kickass way to calm your mind the hell down and, in so doing, prepare your body for optimal sleep.
- Meditation gives you a chance to process all of the daily, accumulated mental shit that keeps you from falling asleep.
- Meditate one or twice a day for 20 minutes at a time. If sitting still for 20 minutes each day makes you want to crawl out of your skin, start with 10 minutes and build up incrementally.
- Don’t meditate right before bed…inevitably you’re going to fall asleep before you calm your head. Although sleep is the ultimate aim, you want to clear your head first and unwind so that you can sleep peacefully.
- Meditation will help you to focus and make important decisions when they count, so that you know when to be gangster and when to be zen. Don’t make important decisions when you’re functioning on a sleep deficit; things that may seem oh so logical when you’re drunk on sleep deprivation, but may have a different appearance when you’re “sleep-sober.”
8. GET INTO YOUR COMFORT ZONE
- Sleep is one of the instances where it isn’t a cardinal sin to stay inside of your comfort zone. In fact, the more comfortable you are and the less willing you are to leave this zone, the better.
- Stop with the electronic devices at least 1 hour before bed. There isn’t conclusive evidence yet, but sleep researchers have suggested that the exposure to the light on these devices can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms and the release of melatonin.
- Block out any light and noise from your room; the darker it is, the more melatonin your body will produce and the deeper you’ll sleep.
- Spend some money on pimping bedding and décor that gets you excited to get into bed. You want that vintage Rainbow Bright duvet cover and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles onesie? Go out and get that shit.
- Read fiction to ease you into sleep. Don’t read non-fiction or work related stuff in bed; this is only going to stimulate your brain and stress reactors so that you don’t sleep at all and it will give you those “adult” dreams of…sunken costs or standard operating procedures.
9. GET HIGH
- Okay so don’t get high but YAY for sensationalist titles. If you’re still struggling to sleep, make use of natural sleep remedies available from your local health store.
- The minerals Calcium and Magnesium are both sleep boosters, and when taken together, they become even more effective, so they’re often sold as combined supplements. Try the water soluble effervescent mix that you can drink in the evening before you go to bed.
- Carob power is a good caffeine-free substitute for cocoa and chocolate, and it is derived from yup, you guessed it, the carob tree (which is part of the pea family…take that you know-it-all). While carob won’t necessarily improve your sleep, it will give you that psychological fix that you used to get from cocoa and chocolate except without the residual buzz.
- Oh, and please stay the hell away from synthetic sleeping pills; that stuff is straight out bad for you and, while they might provide a short-term solution to your issues with sleep, they will mess up your natural sleep cycle big time.
So, now that you know what our kickass tips are for optimising the quality and quantity of your seep, what are your go-to solutions for sleeplessness and which of our tips do you find most useful? Give us a shout in the comments below, yo!