When you read about improving your health, sleep will often feature somewhere in the article. Sleep seems to be a remedy for everything. For good reason, too. Sleep improves brain cognition, attention levels, and even your immune system.
Yet most articles and posts will suggest you need to increase the amount you sleep. While this can’t hurt, it’s often not an option for people. They have life responsibilities that keep them up to a certain time, and jobs and work that require them to get up at specific times in the morning. For these reasons, it’s often impossible for people to fit in extra hours of sleep.
Instead, what you should be focusing on is sleeping better.
How can you sleep better?
Sleep comes in different cycles. There’s light sleep (the early stages, when you’re just falling asleep), REM sleep (stands for rapid eye movement, the kind of sleep that produces dreams and brain activity), and deep sleep (when you are mostly unaware of your surroundings).
Deep sleep is the most important part of sleep, but adults gain less and less of it as they age. In fact, out of an average 8-hour sleep, it’s suggested that adults only get 1-2 hours of deep sleep.
So, when looking to sleep better, you want to maximize the amount of time you spend in deep sleep. But how do you do this?
What methods promote better sleep?
Exercise: Exercising helps you to reach the ideal phase of sleep—deep sleep. You want to do some intense exercise before you go to sleep. Not directly before—you’ll actually be kept awake by your body if you do this—but enough before that you have time to get tired. Ideally, this will be around 6 pm. An exhausted mind will switch to the deep sleep cycle faster, ensuring better sleep.
Use sleep equipment: Some people struggle to get good sleep because they have sleeping problems, such as sleep apnea. Those who have problems like this can get specialist equipment to improve their sleep, like a CPAP machine. Ensure you don’t buy faulty equipment, though, as lawsuits have recently been brought against Phillips’ CPAP machine—go now to check out these kinds of issues, as these problems will only make your sleep worse—the opposite of what you’re aiming for.
Hot baths: Did you know a hot bath can help you sleep better? This is a slightly more luxurious way to reach deep sleep than the exercise option. A hot bath directly before bed should help you fall asleep faster, increasing the time you get in each cycle. Having a bath after you’ve been to the gym also helps your sleep. Try swapping out your post-gym shower for a post-gym bath.
Get into a pattern: Waking up tired is often due to waking up at the wrong time. Sleep is usually constructed of several 90-minute cycles. When you wake up part-way through a cycle, you often feel disorientated and tired. Using online apps to work out your cycles (then waking up at the end of a cycle, not during) should mean you get better sleep. Even if this means you have to wake up a bit earlier.