Sleep is the most overlooked element of good health. Sleep is the time when the body rebuilds. This time is when the brain develops the pathways for learning, the body rebuilds muscles that have been worked either through training or life in general, and the hormones are managed as a part of the circadian rhythm. If you short yourself on sleep, your body and mind aren’t going to be their best and your performance will be affected.
How much sleep should you get?
Most practical advise says we should be getting between 7 – 9 hours. What you need is individual. Are you working harder? You likely need more sleep to repair and refresh. You’ll know you’re getting enough when you can sleep through the night, wake up without an alarm, and feel refreshed.
Not all sleep is created equal. Beyond the time factor, there is a qualitative feature as well. You’ve felt it before. You sleep a full eight hours, but you wake up feeling horrible. Or you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t seem to get back to sleep.
How do we get good sleep?
Start with planning. Schedule the time you’re going to sleep and make it a priority.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid light, especially the blue light from computers, televisions, mobile phones and tablets.
- Develop a ritual
- Complete darkness
- Cold room
- Lack of sound or white noise
Maybe it is the internal auditor in me, but you should also document your results. I’ve used a Beddit and a Hexoskin to measure my sleep efficiency. Both are excellent tools. Once you know how you’re doing, you can tweak your environment and approach and find the best sleep solution for you.