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7 Effective Ways to Get Amazing Sleep

7 Effective Ways to Get Amazing Sleep

Life seems to get more and more hectic. Our days seem to be more and more packed with demands on our time. And the one area of life where we often feel we should improve (but seldom do) is that of sleep. Nobody is still quite sure of the optimum amount of sleep, or even if such a thing exists. But one thing is for certain – there’s nothing that beats feeling refreshed after a night’s rest. So what are the ways to get the best out of a night’s sleep? Let’s take a look at some of the most effective methods:

1. Sleep hygiene

The term “sleep hygiene” might sound like it refers (somehow) to either washing or staying clean during sleep. But actually it refers to the conditions that are most conducive towards good sleep. The single most important thing you can do when addressing quality of sleep is to look at not just the physical factors (e.g. light levels in the room) but also the non-physical ones such as sleep cycles and bedtimes. Think of sleep hygiene as the overarching strategy towards a better night’s sleep, with everything else mentioned in this list as a series of actions in support of it.

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2. Respect your internal clock

To an extent, nature made us all creatures of habit. This is why, when after crossing time zones, we’re prone to jet-lag. Our habitual waking and sleeping cycles suddenly go up against a clock that seems to have its hour hand perpetually in the wrong place. You can work with your internal clock to help aid restful sleep by nit going against it. Many of us are apt to do this – and I am as guilty as anyone. The most familiar scenario is the average Friday or Saturday night. After a long week at work, you find yourself staying up later. And getting up later the next morning. By the time Monday morning rolls around, what do we have?  Yes, an out-of-sync body clock. What works for me is to ensure getting up at the same time every day (regardless of what time I went to sleep).

3. Gear up the right habits for optimum sleep

Much of what you do in the evening will likely have an effect on your night’s sleep. So – this goes without saying, really – plates of rich food, vigorous exercise, caffeine – all of these are to be avoided during the time prior to going to bed.  Chances are that after a certain time in the evening you wouldn’t feel like eating rich food or firing up the espresso maker anyway. But it’s good to be aware of the things that can boost sleep, such as being in a quiet place, being hydrated and avoiding too much ‘blue light’ (e.g. from computer screens) before bed.

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4. Ritualize and make associations

It’s amazing what the power of ritual can do to help sleep. It may be down to the fact that if you carry out a series of actions every night (say, setting the alarm clock, filling the hot water bottle, reading a few pages of a favourite book) you are sending signals to the brain that bedtime is near. It’s almost as if the subconscious starts to prepare your body for the sleep ahead. Some people use a ‘sleep aroma’ that they associate with sleep – and you can even buy dispensers that give off a calming lavender type smell. These won’t (of course) have any medical effect making you drowsy, but they really can make the bedroom smell very pleasant, and nothing wrong in that when you close your eyes at night.

5. Leverage the power of light

Our brains are actually programmed to sleep when we’re in darkness – hence presumably why as a species we tend to sleep at night (unless working shifts). So obviously it’s best to sleep in dark or near dark. But what about waking? Well, the opposite is true. Bright light aids alertness. So when the morning comes, if it’s dark outside and in the room, the sound of the alarm may be intrusive enough to make you groan. Using a dawn simulation clock can really help wake you up by degrees in much the same way as you would if sunlight started streaming in through the window.

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6. Embrace the Zen aspect of the Zzz

I used to sleep in a cluttered room. The floor was (I am embarrassed to admit) strewn with clothes. The surfaces crowded with books, empty soft drink cans, and all manner of random detritus. Then I read about de-cluttering. So I de-cluttered the room. The effect was so powerful that I could hardly believe it. The room felt calmer and it suddenly seemed to contain more space. What this made me realise is that an untidy room is like a three-dimensional to-do list – it’s a whole litany of things that need done. “Wash this garment.” “Put away this no longer required novel.” And so on. The reason you feel calmer in a tidy, ordered, Zen-like room is that it doesn’t require any action other than for you to enjoy being there.

7. Build your day around your night’s sleep

This may sound counterintuitive, as if day is somehow subservient to the night time hours. But this is not what I mean at all. If you look at all the healthy behaviours that we’re enjoined to include in our day, many of them are also very good sleep boosters. The following in particular are definitely a great help in preparing the path from wakefulness to sound sleep:

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Exercise. By getting the recommended amount of exercise you’re likely to have lower stress levels, and find that bedtime and good quality sleeping are synonymous.

Varied diet. By eating the right things (like plenty of fruit and vegetables) while avoiding the nasties (large amounts of processed, additive-loaded food) you will be less likely to spend the evening snacking and be more likely to feel calmer and happier of an evening.

No smoking, and low levels of alcohol consumption. Smoking is a no-no anyway. And those who have given up often remark on how much better they feel in the mornings. In terms of alcohol, it’s a well known fact that it impedes quality sleep. Swap that glass of wine for a cup of chamomile tea, put on some calm music, and feel the tension ease away.

Featured photo credit: peridotmaize via pixabay.com

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Sarah Anton

Editor and founder of The Fitrepreneur, aspires to improve people's living style.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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