Have you ever tried to finish a productive day of work after a bad night’s sleep? It’s not easy, is it? Bad sleep has a highly negative effect on your mental and physical performance, slowing down both your brain and your body the next morning.
We’ve all heard the standard sleep advice – get eight hours a night, avoid drinking caffeine before bed, and so on. But even with these sleep optimisation rules, many people still struggle to fall asleep – and stay asleep – at a healthy bedtime.
Would you like to improve your sleep? If the standard sleep advice isn’t making it easier for you to wake up feeling healthy and refreshed, try one of these 10 weird yet effective sleep improvement techniques.
Eat a calorically dense, high protein meal
Have you ever felt tired after a big meal? When you consume a protein-heavy meal that contains a lot of calories, such as a steak or a chicken breast, your body starts working hard to digest the food and turn it into usable energy.
If you struggle to fall asleep, try eating a high protein meal or snack within two or three hours of your bed time. Since you’ll consume more calories before bed this way, make sure you have a slightly smaller lunch to avoid gaining weight.
Switch on (or turn down) the air conditioner
In order to fall asleep, you need to feel comfortable in your bed. Heat is one of the most common causes of discomfort for people trying to fall asleep. If you ever feel hot and sweaty in bed, try turning down the temperature to fall asleep faster.
Research shows that the ideal temperature for healthy sleep is between 67 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid spending more than you need to on electricity, set up your air conditioner to automatically switch off after 60 to 90 minutes of usage.
When you wake up, work out for 30 minutes
One of the best way to reduce the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep is to start the day right. Drink your coffee as early in the morning as possible to avoid its long-term effects on your energy levels, then go out and exercise.
30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise in the morning has been found to improve the quality of sleep in adults. A quick morning jog or bicycle ride could be all you need to conquer insomnia and fall asleep within minutes of getting into bed.
Switch of all screens and lights before bed
Yes, you read that right – switch off all the lights and screens in your home shortly before your bedtime. This technique prevents artificial light from tricking your body into thinking it’s still day time and withholding the release of sleep hormones.
If you share your home, you can achieve the same effect by wearing sunglasses close to your bedtime. After a few minutes, your eyes will adjust and you’ll find it easier to get around the house, even with the lights switched off.
Squeeze and curl your toes until you doze off
Sounds too simple to work, right? A commonly used technique is to curl up your toes and release them every 20 to 30 seconds, which helps to relax your muscles and makes falling asleep easier.
The reason this technique is effective is because it focuses your concentration on a single part of your body your toes. Since you’re so focused on curling your toes, it’s easier for the muscles in your arms, legs and posterior chain to feel relaxed.
Too many thoughts? Write them all down
It’s impossible to fall asleep if your mind is racing from one thought to another. If you struggle to slow down, from a mental perspective, before you go to sleep, try recording your thoughts in a diary.
Writing down your thoughts – particularly important thoughts that you’ll need to remember and return to the next day – helps to calm your mind, making it a great deal easier to relax and drift off to sleep.
Use a blue light emitter to create a healthier space
Did you know that your environment has a huge effect on your sleep quality? An unhealthy sleep environment – for example, a room that’s very brightly lit or too noisy – can make falling asleep impossible.
A blue light emitter encourages healthy sleep by emitting blue light – a type of light that reduces insomnia symptoms. Exposure to blue light is also found to reduce the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder – a fairly common form of winter depression.
Feel uncomfortable? Try sleeping on your stomach
Do you feel uncomfortable sleeping on your back? If you don’t feel comfortable on your back or side in bed, try reducing the amount of weight on your shoulders and spine by sleeping on your stomach.
The half military crawl position – a position that deliberately limits movement – is one of several chest/stomach sleep positions that prevents sore muscles and joints from preventing you from falling asleep.
Too cold in bed? Sleep in a pair of socks
If your bedroom is cold, you’ll typically notice it in the extremities of your body like your toes and fingers before you feel it in your torso. This is because these parts of your body have the least fat, making them the most sensitive to temperature.
When you feel cold in bed, try slipping on a pair of socks to keep your feet warm. It may seem like a change too small to have any effect, but the increased temperature of your feet will actually make your whole body feel warmer.
I hate wearing socks to bed but if I don’t then my feet will make my whole body cold ?
— Mel. (@SuppMelissaa) October 11, 2014
Have a pre-sleep routine you only do at night
Establishing routines is a very important part of behaviour. When you do something frequently, it becomes a process that your mind – and in the case of sleep, your body – adapts to over time.
Do you have a pre-sleep routine? From showering and brushing your teeth to sitting on the sofa with a great book, establishing a consistent pre-sleep routine can make it easier to feel tired and fall asleep shortly after getting into bed.