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“There are two types of people in the world, givers and takers. The takers may eat better but the givers sleep better” Marlo Thomas.
We all know the benefits of quality and optimal sleep, weather it is improved function, well-being, energy levels or training performance. How much more can be said about the life changing benefits of improving the quality of your sleep? It is mostly touted as a recovery tool in health and fitness circles but it is really so much more than just that.
What can you do?
A number of things by all accounts. Exercise has been found to enhance quality and quantity of sleep, just ensure you are not exercising immediately before bed as you may be still in “exercise mode” rather than sleep mode.
Getting rid of blue light can be a game changer for being able to switch off and actually begin the process of drifting off. Many people will be in bed early but have a selection of laptops, phones, tablets or even TV’s ready to greet them when they hit the hay. Even if you need your phone for an alarm the simple placement of it at farthest point away from your bed can enable you not become distracted and surf the web for half the night. Reading a book can be a great idea to take you away for the screen and also help you unwind if you find a particularly engrossing read.
I cannot stress the importance of a quality mattress. Last year I was fortunate enough to move into a house with a brand new memory foam mattress in every room. Having a bed that moulds itself to your contours rather than the other way round can be a fantastic aid you finding that perfect sleeping position and stops you from tossing and turning throughout the night.
A game changer in sleep quality and quantity for myself personally was a cold shower right before bed. Research has shown that lowering core body temperature can affect your circadian rhythms by sending signals to your brain to enter sleep mode (1). That clean, fresh and generally stress free feeling accompanying the reduced body temperature really sets up for a good night’s sleep and hopefully it is something you can work into your daily schedule.
Bottom line as always is results may differ from person to person but you won’t ever know your own responses until you try. In part 2 I will look at how nutrition can play a major role in sleep quality and quantity also.
ARTICLE BY COACH EOIN MURPHY
1. E. D. Buhr, S.-H. Yoo, J. S. Takahashi. Temperature as a Universal Resetting Cue for Mammalian Circadian Oscillators. Science, 2010; 330 (6002): 379 DOI:10.1126/science.1195262
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