⅓ of your life is spent in a sleep state. Making sure this time is well spent will give you an unexpected edge going into the battlefield. Get ready to upgrade your sleep by following these useful tips for better sleep.
“You lose more than time if you sleep when it dawns; for the early riser, wealth is half-won.”
-Hávamál (viking poet)
1. Blue Light & Sleep
Turns out, blue light actually wreaks havoc on your sleep by conflicting with your body’s production of melatonin. Blue light is a portion of the visible light spectrum that can have unique effects on alertness, hormone production, and sleep cycles. This wavelength of light is emitted by LED and fluorescent lights, as well as many electronic devices. To enjoy a better night of rest, and to stop messing up your sleep cycle – avoid any display screens 2 – 3 hours before going to bed.
2. Limit caffeine
A nice cup of coffee in the morning never hurt anyone, but caffeine late at night does, in fact, have a negative impact on your sleep cycle. It upsets the rhythm of your deep and REM sleep, and can result in feelings of fatigue the following day. Try not to drink coffee after 1 – 2 PM.
3. Get a better bed
It’s never a bad idea to check in with your bed and to ask yourself, “can I do better?” Sure, it may not feel like the manliest thing to pamper your bed, but hey, it might contribute to a better you. The quality of your sleep can often be affected by your comfort levels during the night. So check in with your bed and make sure you’re not settling, at least too much.
4. Watch what you eat
By eating clean foods (organic fruits and vegetables) and avoiding ridiculous ingredients such as preservatives, phony works of science that make your food a different color, etc. – your sleep will improve. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoid junk food at all costs. Once you start getting the sleep you need, you won’t be as drawn to unhealthy crap.
5. Don’t eat late but don’t go to bed starving either
Going to bed on an empty stomach can result in waking up only to raid the fridge for that leftover burrito from the night before. However, going to bed with a full stomach keeps your body busy with digesting your food when what your body really needs to focus on is sleep. Ever weighed yourself before bed and then the next morning? Try it sometime. You’ll find that you actually burn calories while you’re sawing logs. Try to space 2 – 3 hours after your last meal before going to bed.
6. Don’t fall for the alcohol trap
Contrary to popular belief, Alcohol is a sedative and does not actually improve sleep. It can cause you to fall asleep faster but the negative consequences on your restorative sleep should not be ignored.
7. Pick up a meditation practice
One of the biggest reasons most people struggle with sleep is because their minds are racing. We have so much to keep up with in life that often our brains get a little too accustomed with constant problem solving. Don’t let your mind run wild by learning to manage your thoughts. A great way to take control of your mind, improve your well-being and improve the quality of your sleep – is to develop a meditation practice.
Here’s the secret to activating your parasympathetic nervous system. This part of your body is designed to help you manage stress, and the cool thing is that you can actually activate it.
1 – Start by taking a deep breath (5 seconds in)
2 – Hold your breath (5 seconds)
3 – Then take a slow exhale (7 seconds out)
*breathe through your belly, then into your chest and finally up into your head in a circular rhythm for best results
That’s literally it. Just do this for 5 – 10 minutes and you’ll be out of work mode and ready to catch some Z’s in no time! If you ever wake up in the middle of the night, this is a useful technique to return back to sleep.
Sadly, due to commercialized farming practices, even some of the nutritious fruits and vegetables we can find at the grocery store are low in magnesium. This is because the soil we grow our plants in are being grown in soil that is overused and often depleted of vital nutrients that subsequently affect us consumers. Dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, and legumes are all a great source of much needed magnesium and can help to balance your diet with this crucial mineral. Magnesium participates in over 300 different enzyme reactions, some of which are involved in the regulation of melatonin.
10. Earn your sleep
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could sit on your butt all day and not deal with the negative side effects of doing so? Keep in mind that your body was designed to be a hunter and our bodies get confused when we default to a stagnant lifestyle. By exercising regularly, you are likely to see an immediate improvement in your sleep. You can look at your sleep like an exchange of value, one that provides a highly valuable gift that you must earn to some extent.
11. Get into a rhythm
Don’t flip flop all over the place with the times you go to bed and fall asleep. Think of your brain as a little robot helper that does exactly what you tell it to. By telling your brain tonight I’m going to bed at 2 AM and then updating it the next day with a sleep time of 8 PM, you’re only going to confuse the little guy. By remaining consistent with your sleep cycles, you will reap the benefits of programming your own brain to assist you with this natural process. Try to stick to a similar bedtime and wake up time each day. It helps. If you have any other mens health concerns contact Viking Man today!
Other useful resources
Matthew Walker is probably the world’s greatest expert on the subject of sleep. You can benefit from just about anything this guy has to say about getting better sleep.