3 Steps toward better sleep

Getting quality sleep has some serious benefits, like aiding in weight loss and helping you think clearly. The majority of the US adult population does not get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. Many contribute this sleep depravity to their job, poor caffeine habits, or too much technology. We wanted to share a few less common tips to help you get some well-deserved sleep.

Knowing when to set your alarm can play a major role in how rested you feel in the morning. Instead of setting your alarm for when you need to wake up, set it to when your body wants to wake up. Throughout the night, your body goes through 5 different phases of the sleep cycle. Each cycle typically lasts around 90 minutes. If you try to wake up when your body is in deep sleep (REM), you will struggle to get out of bed, feeling exhausted and groggy. Try setting your alarm so that it won’t interrupt a sleep cycle—7.5 or 9 hours of sleep a night is ideal. If you don’t have time to get as much sleep as you’d like, you could actually feel more rested with 6 hours of sleep rather than 7 since you won’t be interrupting your body’s deep sleep.

Eating too close to bedtime can interfere with your sleep. This is one of the many reasons we’re fans of intermittent fasting! After eating, c-peptide (a protein) is created to help your body store nutrients. C-peptide is great and plays an important role, but it’s also associated with lower melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone that helps you fall asleep. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine recommends your final meal or snack should be consumed at least 1 (but preferably 2) hours before you intend to sleep.

Regulating your circadian rhythm can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily. Your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural reaction to knowing when you should be asleep and awake. The reason everyone says you should avoid electronics before you sleep is because they emit blue light. This is the same type of light we’re exposed to during the day. It signals to your body that it is daytime, disrupting melatonin production and keeping you awake. You can help your body sleep more easily by creating a longer daytime circadian cycle. Try to get out in the sun earlier in the morning. Seeing and feeling sunlight helps your body wake up. If you start this process early, your body will more readily adjust when the sun goes down so you can easily fall asleep.

So many of us try to work as much as possible and sleep as little as possible; it seems to be a trend in our current culture, but a good, quality night of sleep is necessary for optimal health benefits! No matter your fitness goals, you won’t reach them if you don’t let your body recover.