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9 tips to improve your sleep
- Consistency – aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time most days. If you only choose ONE of these tips to adopt, make it this one. It’s much better to get the same 7 hours every night than it is to average 8 hours across the week by getting extra at weekend. This is much more disruptive to your circadian rhythm (internal body clock).
- Caffeine – avoid caffeine after 12 noon. Caffeine is a stimulant and it takes 5-6 hours for even 50% of it to be removed from your system.
- Avoid exercising late in the evening – make sure you are finished 2-3 hours before bed. It takes a while for your metabolism to calm down. The later you train the longer you’ll take to drop off. If you are going to train late then try to make it a relatively easy session. The best time for those HIT workouts is around 4-5pm.
- Eat any large meals at least 2 hours before going to bed – eating too close to bed time amps up the digestive system at a time when the body is designed to ease up on digestion.
- Keep your bedroom cool – 15-18C is optimal.
- Remove all electric gadgets from your bedroom – the bedroom should be reserved for the two S’s – sleep and sex. It’s not an office. If you must have your phone in the bedroom then at least leave it on flight mode so that WiFi and bluetooth are turned off.
- Resist working on your computer, tablet, or phone in the 2 hours before bed time – these emit blue light which suppress the secretion of melatonin, a hormone which is necessary for sleep. If you have to, then either wear blue light blocking glasses or adjust the filter on your gadget to reduce the brightness. Many computers and phones now have a ‘nightshift’ function that you can activate from say 7pm – 7am
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime – a nightcap might help you to fall sleep quicker but it actually disrupts your deep and REM sleep. Both of these are essential to athletes because this is when physical and mental recovery occurs.
- Relax for 30 – 40 minutes before bed time – if you go to bed in stressed state it’s likely your heart rate and brain activity will be higher and sleep will take longer. All you need do is read, do some meditation or some gentle stretching and this will help.