We often underestimate the importance of sleep. Sleep allows the body to rest and recover, playing a key role in cognitive function, immune response and overall performance.
Even if you’re getting the right amount of sleep, which can be a feat in itself, it may not be quality sleep. There’s no way around it, a poor night’s sleep will impact our day in some shape or form. So set yourself up for success the night before.
Reduce Artificial Light In The Evening
The circadian rhythm is our natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, essentially it's the human twenty four hour body clock. A number of factors influence our circadian rhythm, though the primary external cue is light. Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, found that evening exposure to blue light can delay the onset of melatonin production and disrupt the circadian rhythm.
Now, as much as we may want to, we know it’s not always realistic to put away the phone or laptop just before bed. Luckily, there are a few measures we can take to reduce the effects of blue light. Whether it be investing in blue light blocking glasses or dimming the computer screen and setting our devices to night mode. Not only will this improve the onset of sleep, but the quality of sleep too.
Keep Your Room Cool
Light isn’t the only external factor that affects our circadian rhythm, temperature plays a role too. Changes in temperature, and light, throughout the day act as signifiers to the body, keeping the circadian rhythm on track.
The body’s core temperature naturally decreases throughout the evening, reaching its lowest point during the night. It's this drop in temperature that helps to initiate and maintain sleep. A study on the Effects of Thermal Environment on Sleep and Circadian Rhythm, found a cooler bedroom environment to be associated with improved sleep quality and reduced wakefulness during the night.
Plan Your Day The Night Before
Stress is notorious for affecting the quality and onset of our sleep. Research has shown stress to cause, not only a decrease in sleep efficiency, but in slow wave and REM sleep. Planning your day the night before can help to quiet the mind, relieving worrisome thoughts. What's more, throughout the day we experience decision fatigue, a psychological phenomenon by which our decision-making ability worsens as the day progresses. Foreplanning will help to avoid making poor choices the following day, meaning you’ll hit the ground running.
Move The Body Throughout the Day
Setting yourself up for a restful night of sleep begins earlier than you might think. At times, it feels impossible to step away from the computer screen, meaning we could go a whole day without much physical movement.
However, remaining sedentary means that when we do finally lay down to sleep, we don’t have the impulse to. Research has shown individuals engaging in regular moderate-intensity exercise to not only experience shorter sleep onset latency, but higher sleep efficiency compared to sedentary individuals. Exercise also stimulates the feel-good hormones, helping to reduce stress and anxiety, which, as we know, can significantly impact the quality of our sleep.
Limit Caffeine Intake Six Hours Before Bed
Caffeine is a stimulant that blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter responsible for promoting sleep and relaxation. In blocking adenosine, caffeine promotes alertness and wakefulness. Caffeine not only delays the onset of sleep but acts as a diuretic, which can increase the need to urinate during the night, reducing sleep continuity. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that even a moderate dose of caffeine six hours prior to bedtime had a notable effect on sleep disturbance.
Start The Day With Sunshine
The quality of the following night’s sleep can in fact be affected from the moment you wake up. As we’ve established, light is the primary environmental cue that helps to synchronise the circadian rhythm. Exposure to natural light in the morning helps to reinforce a regular sleep-wake pattern. What's more, morning sunlight exposure suppresses melatonin, helping to reduce daytime sleepiness.Get comfortable when winding down for the night in our Athleisure Club Sweatpants.