Ever feel like your energy or performance levels are down for no good reason? You eat fairly well and workout like a champ but somehow you still find yourself feeling like your energy gauge is on low way too often. The first thing I look at whenever I notice I'm a step behind is my sleep. Am I sleeping enough and do I feel rested from the sleep that I'm getting? If not, I use these 7 sleep secrets to help me to keep my sleep skills sharp:
1. Keep it cool: Your bedroom should be comfortably cool - this is what the body prefers when in sleep or recovery mode. Start with a sleeping environment that is around 65 degrees F. Everyone is different so find your sweet spot around that temperature.
2. Blackout: Your sleeping environment needs to be dark. Even the light from an alarm clock can ruin honest sleep attempts. Get blackout curtains, get rid of the alarm clocks, and shut down any other light sources in the bedroom. If you sleep with your cellphone in the bedroom make sure it's on airplane mode - it could be lighting up the room every time a text comes in without you realizing it. Oh by the way, a classic sleep killer is having the TV in the bedroom...
*Bonus blackout secret: Get yourself a Sleep Master Sleep Mask. Sometimes light pollution in the bedroom is impossible to completely eradicate, especially when traveling. I've tried them all and nothing comes close to the Sleep Master.
3. Real sunlight: Taking in 30-60 minutes of direct sunlight per day is key to keeping your body's sleep rhythms normal. Without this the brain/body loses track of what is night and what is day.
4. Shhhh: Keep the bedroom quiet. Loud noises outside on the street or more subtle noises within the house can crush your attempts at good sleep. Often this occurs after you've drifted off and you don't even realize that it's making you stir. The fix is simple - get a pair of ear plugs.
5. Warm shower: Taking a warm shower before bed will help to regulate your body temperature and get you ready for sleep mode. I know this sounds crazy after I mentioned that keeping a cool sleeping environment is key. Before bed, the body's temperature naturally drops and body heat begins to escape causing you to feel warm. Due to wacky schedules and late bedtimes this natural temperature drop can get lost in the shuffle. A warm shower prior to bed will trick the body into feeling warm and cue the cooling process that should happen as you are preparing for sleep.
6. Cut the caffeine: Caffeine intake after 2pm is a surefire way to disrupt your sleep. Have some discipline when it comes to caffeine after 2pm if you want to get more sleep and have more lasting energy.
7. Routine: This is the easiest sleep secret out there! Creating a pre-bed routine is huge because the body craves this. It doesn't have to be complicated, it just has to be consistent.
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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS spent 6 seasons as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and is the founder of TD Athletes Edge. He is nationally renowned for his evidence-based and scientific approach to fitness, training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
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