Here are the top 8 sleep hacks that have worked for most clients. Give one or a few a try and see what works best for you!
Since sleep has such a huge role in metabolism, I've been experimenting with my clients to discover strategies to help them sleep better for the last five years. These strategies aren't magic pills that will cure everything (especially if you suffer from insomnia or anxiety) but they can help get you closer to that perfect night's sleep!
This is the number one sleep better strategy that works. There seems to be a 10 to 15 minute allowance either way but anything beyond that often results in sleep being negatively affected. (FYI this includes your weekends. A big night out CAN disrupt your future sleep later the next week.)
Bed time doesn't work as well if you don't also have a rule on waking up. This includes the same 10 to 15 min allowance. Your body needs to enter a pattern and the more you can stick to that pattern, the easier it is to signal and to stay in sleep. Giving the body a set window to be alert and to be asleep will work best. (This also includes weekends. That long lie-in CAN affect your sleep pattern on subsequent nights.)
Typically my clients have slept better if they shut off all screens 30 to 60 minutes before bed time. Screen light, like all light, sends confusing signals to your body that it's time to be alert even though it's dark outside. It's also extremely challenging for your body to transition from a high alert state to immediate rest - which is exactly what you're trying to do when you go from screen light to immediately lying down on your pillow.
8pm is a general cut off and can vary depending when you've set your bed time. It's usually a good guideline for those that sleep around 10pm or 11pm.
Stress elevates cortisol levels, which inhibit sleep and relaxation. Your body tries to lower these throughout the day so that by the end of the day, you can sleep like a baby. That's not going to happen if you bring on the stress.
Stress triggers may include: intense exercise, reading emails, having a heated discussion, reading something that scares or upsets you, etc. You'll know what creates stress for you by how alert you feel after doing that action.
Do yourself the ultimate sleep favor and allow time to let those cortisol levels drop by not inducing stressful moments close to bed time!
Having a set bedtime is a part of your bedtime ritual. This ritual is a set of actions that you do the same way, at the same time, every day before bed to signal to your body that it's time to wind down and sleep.
A sleep ritual is usually 10 minutes or longer before your set bedtime. It includes general tasks like brushing teeth or showering and more specific ones to you such as meditation, reading, breath work etc. Every person is unique with a different window of time available each evening. See what works for you and what you can sustainably maintain as consistency is more important than how length.
Then create your sleep ritual and stick to it no matter where you are in the world or what day of the week. This will usually help you sleep better without fail!
For some clients eating ANYTHING close to bedtime has been an issue but nearly all clients experienced discomfort after eating these specific foods.
These foods can often cause heart burn and indigestion which, naturally, disrupt sleep. You can experiment with how close to bedtime you eat these foods but generally anything closer than 2 hours before sleeping will have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep.
Generally, you want to feel that your stomach is quiet (not grumbling or making noise) when you finally lie down to sleep. If it's not that usually means it's too late for you to be eating and/or you need to eat different food in the evening.
Your body is an incredible machine than LOVES patterns. Disrupting the pattern is often what causes imbalance - especially with sleep. One of the most effective strategies you can use to take advantage of this is to prepare the senses for sleep during your night time ritual.
This is my favorite strategy for sleeping like a baby because it makes bedtime something to look forward to rather than just the culmination of your day.
Preparing your senses might mean you listen to something calming or relax by candlelight. Maybe you sip on decaffeinated tea. Or perhaps you smell a soothing essential oil. You can do all of these. Find what works for you!
This last sleep hack can be ignored if you generally sleep well. Some people are less sensitive to caffeine than others and some can have an hour long nap in the middle of the day and still pass out without a problem. I'm betting if you're reading this post though, that's probably not you.
Now, I've put these two behaviors together because they have the same outcome; they disrupt your energy levels and sleep cycle. Usually caffeine after 2pm (sometimes earlier) will disrupt your sleep. The same rule generally applies to napping unless you're seriously sleep deprived or working night shifts.
If you can limit these to the morning, then you are much more likely to fall asleep quicker and sleep like a baby. (In the case of napping, you may even want to eliminate it unless you're doing it the same time, every day for a short duration of 30 minutes or less.)