Do you wish you had more energy and focus each day? Do you want to be able to train harder, perform better, and recover faster? Do you want to build more muscle and lose more body fat?
No, this isn’t a late-night advertisement or social media scam. It’s a wake-up call that doing just one thing each and every day can have a transcendental impact on your mental and physical well-being and performance.
You’ve been told your whole life that you need to get enough sleep; however, many of us don’t give sleep nearly the respect it deserves. With better sleep, you’ll feel and perform better (not to mention recover faster) each and every day. Sleep impacts a seemingly endless number of biological processes, yet it’s one of the last things we consider when looking for reasons why we’re not getting the results we want.
Here are X easy tips to help you sleep faster and longer.
#1 Turn Off Devices Two Hours Before Bed
Technology affords us myriad benefits on a daily basis (including the ability for you to read this article); however, it is not without its drawbacks, including making it more difficult for individuals to fall asleep.
There are several reasons for this. The primary one is that electronic devices (smartphones, computers, TVs, tablets, etc.) emit a high-energy wavelength called blue light. While seeing blue light is great for increasing levels of wakefulness and alertness, it’s terrible for falling asleep. The reason for this is that blue light blunts the production of melatonin -- the hormone that governs your sleep-wake cycle. Staring at your phone, TV, or laptop right before bed suppresses melatonin production, making it that much more difficult to fall asleep.
Another reason devices should be avoided prior to bed is that it prevents your mind from calming down and may actually increase your levels of stress (cortisol). Texts, emails, notifications, and not getting enough likes on your post all keep your brain engaged (distracted) and potentially stressed, which doesn’t behoove your ability to fall asleep.
As such, make a concerted effort to disconnect from your devices at least two hours before bed.
#2 Establish a Nighttime Routine
We’re creatures of habit. There’s something comforting in having a routine, and it can actually lead to a healthier, happier life. Healthy daily habits include eating a nutritious diet, brushing your teeth, exercising, and getting enough quality sleep.
Establishing a nighttime routine or nightly ritual primes your mind and body for sleep, which helps you to fall asleep faster and maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Your nighttime ritual may vary from your friend’s, parent’s, or partner’s, and that’s OK. Find what helps you to unwind and do it consistently. This could include reading a book, taking a warm bath/shower, and/or having a cup of herbal tea.
#3 Limit Caffeine/Alcohol Intake Before Bed
Caffeine and alcohol are two things that may make you feel better when consumed in moderation, but both can wreak havoc on your sleep. Caffeine is a powerful CNS stimulant that increases mental energy, alertness, focus, and performance, which is what makes it a great ingredient to include in pre workout supplements, including 1UP Pre Men and 1UP Pre Women.
However, consuming caffeine too close to bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep and/or sleep soundly. A general rule of thumb is to stop consuming caffeine by 3PM, assuming you go to bed around 9 or 10PM. This is due to caffeine’s half-life (5.5 hours), which means if you consume 200mg of caffeine (an amount included in many energy drinks), you still have ~100mg caffeine (the amount in a small cup of coffee) still circulating when it’s time for you to go to bed.
Now, some individuals are more sensitive to caffeine than others, and based on your caffeine tolerance and metabolism, you can figure out the best time to stop consuming caffeine-containing products.
Alcohol is a depressant for most people, which might make you think it is beneficial for sleep. While having an alcoholic beverage prior to sleep (aka “a nightcap”) may help you to fall asleep, research shows it actually can lead to increased nighttime waking’s and increase the suppression of REM sleep, both of which reduce sleep quality.[1,2]
#4 Make Your Room Cool & Dark
Going back to point #1, you want to avoid light when sleeping or trying to fall asleep. As such, making your room as dark as possible will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. This means removing nightlights and no sleeping with the TV on. Using blackout curtains and/or a sleep mask may also be beneficial.
In addition to making your room as dark as possible, keeping it relatively cool is also known to improve sleep quality. Warmer room temperatures can lead to restlessness and insomnia. The Sleep Foundation recommends the best temperature for sleep is between 60-67℉ (15.6-19.4℃).
#5 Try Aromatherapy
Aromas/scents can have profound effects on our psychology and performance. As you know, certain smells are more pleasant than others. Along those lines, particular aromas can help you to relax and unwind at night. Research has also found that aromatherapy can help individuals with insomnia.
Calming scents typically used for relaxation and sleep include:
- Clary sage
Supplements to Help You Sleep Faster and Longer
In addition to the above-mentioned tips, there are a number of supplements that are known to help you sleep faster and longer.
Some of the notable ingredients include:
- Melatonin: governs the sleep-wake cycle of the body to help accelerate the onset of sleep
- L-Theanine: amino acid found in green tea that promotes feelings of calmness and relaxation
- Lemon balm: promotes higher levels of GABA -- the body’s primary inhibitory (“calming”) neurotransmitter
- Valerian: herb renowned for its calming properties that may help reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and help you sleep better.
- Hops: age-old botanical that influences GABA and serotonin levels, which encourages a quicker onset of sleep and deeper sleep.
- Britton, A., Fat, L.N. & Neligan, A. The association between alcohol consumption and sleep disorders among older people in the general population. Sci Rep 10, 5275 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-62227-0
- Chien LW, Cheng SL, Liu CF. The effect of lavender aromatherapy on autonomic nervous system in midlife women with insomnia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:740813. doi: 10.1155/2012/740813. Epub 2011 Aug 18. PMID: 21869900; PMCID: PMC3159017.