8 tips to improve sleep

Most people only focus on diet and exercise when trying to lose weight but sleep could be playing a huge role too.

You’ve only got to look at the way a bad night’s sleep can affect your food choices and cravings to appreciate this.

After reading Matthew Walker’s amazing book ‘Why we sleep’, I’ve been prioritising my own sleep way more recently. I’ve also realised how many of the issues I encounter with my clients in terms of performance, diet adherence, motivation amongst others, are affected by sleep.

And sleep is not just important for fat loss, here’s a quote from the book to show why improving your own sleep is so crucial,

“Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Inadequate sleep- even moderate reductions for just one week-disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic.”

Now do you appreciate why I’m so keen that you improve your sleep quality? Reading this paragraph really made it hit home for me, especially as someone who has ‘functioned’ on 6 hours of sleep for years.

Here are 8 really simple tips that can make massively improve the quality of your sleep and how easily you actually fall asleep:

1.Try to avoid caffeine after midday

I used to recommend restricting caffeine after 4pm but the effects of drinking stimulants like coffee can take up to 8 hours to wear off so stopping at midday is a safer bet.

2.Have a routine

Try to go to bed and get up around the same times, even weekends at possible. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get up on a Monday morning, that’s because your late nights and lie ins at the weekend have disrupted your sleep patterns.

3.Write a plan for the next day

I used to really struggle with this; as soon as I got to bed I’d start remembering things I meant to do and thinking about things for the next day. I’ve found it really helpful to do a kind of brain dump in the evening and then write a plan for the next day. That way I can go to bed relaxed.

4.Avoid gadget use around bedtime

The blue LED light emitted by our phones, ipads and computers can interrupt our body’s release of melatonin, which basically means our body’s miss the cues that it’s time for sleep. Use the night mode on your devices if you must use them or even better get off them before bed.

5.Dim the lights

Big bright lights can be overly stimulating, using lamps and candles can have the opposite effect and create a relaxing mood to help you unwind before bed.

6.Have a hot bath or shower

Your body temperature will drop when you get out which can help you feel sleepy.

7.Read a book

Even better read a boring book! It gets you away from the stimulation of your phone and might help you nod off.

8.Get your phone out of the room

Knowing your phone is next to you, potentially receiving notifications all night is only going to disrupt your sleep. Getting my phone out of my bedroom has made a massive difference to my sleep quality. I know it’s the last thing you want to do but it will really help.

Many of these tips are extremely easy to implement and I can’t stress enough how much better you’ll feel and perform. I appreciate many of you parents out there don’t choose to deprive yourselves of sleep but these tips could help improve what sleep you do get.

(These tips combine my own experience with the amazing information from Matthew Walker’s book which I can’t recommend enough)