Try out these tips in nutrition, and science to maximize your sleep and recovery this winter.
I am a big fan of sleep, I’m sure you can relate. Oddly enough, it’s only been in my last few years that I have come to realize what an important role sleep truly plays in how you feel.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost half of all Americans say they feel sleepy during the day between three and seven days a week. Now daylight savings time comes around twice a year and can further add to that sleepiness we all experience.
Luckily this time around, we gain an hour of sleep (sadly we get see the sun set by 5 PM though - RIP) which can still effect our sleep schedule. You might even be feeling tired earlier in the day or will feel it during this week. Whether you have an issue with grogginess in the mornings when you wake up, you have trouble falling asleep, or you are restless during your nights sleep - Here are my top five tips for getting more sleep, feeling more rested in the morning, and for going to bed easier.
PS. I have struggled the past three years due to my early wake up call to find a good sleep schedule, supplements for sleep, and any sleep device that can help me out along the way. These are five things that have truly helped me the most in my sleep journey and they vary from gadgets that help me out to simple improvements in your nightly routine.
Even if you incorporate just one of these tips into your regime, I promise you will see improvement in your rest and recovery in some way. So here are five ways to maximize your sleep and recovery.
1. Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Now this might be an obvious one, but it took me a long time to truly get a good sleep schedule down. Prioritizing sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. It’s up there with exercise and nutrition (probably even more important as it heavily effects your weight, strength, and even digestion!) It was easy in college for me not to prioritize my sleep and to stay up late doing school work, mindlessly watching tv, or late night outs. Nothing was consistent by the end of an average week. I have found the best thing for me is at least 7-8 hours a night. It was hard to getter habit going at first, but
I started organizing my day to make sure I would get my sleep at night. I know everyone is different in regards to routine and lifestyle, so try to make some adjustment that will work for you.
Start slowly, try a half hour earlier every night for a week. Make it a challenge. I worked my way up to a whole hour earlier than I was used to and it is crazy how much a difference I had in energy and attuned during the day. A good way to stay on track is to keep a sleep journal. You become more aware of your habits and how much you do (or don't do) something when you have a visual way of tracking.
2. Sun Lamp
If you get up early in the winter time, you may notice something. It’s still dark out. It can be hard to get going in the morning when there is no sun out. As a personal trainer who gets up before the sun most mornings for work, this was one of my biggest struggles. My body clock feels weird when I’m up moving around in the dark. So I found a way to hack the system- bring the sun to me.
Sun lamps and sunrise alarm clocks have been two tools that have helped me get up in the mornings with less complaining and less shock to the system. Basically they stimulate a natural sunrise that gradually builds up until it is fully up, followed by everyone’s favorite sound - the morning alarm. It really helps you wake up without the total shock to your system since the sunrise effect is so gradual and starts about 15 minutes before your alarm goes off.
I purchased a sun therapy lamp last winter to help me fight seasonal depression. It feels like genuine sunlight on you and there’s a warmth and brightness to it that helps me start my days in the dark.
Long periods of dark and lack of sun exposure can actually throw off your body’s sleep and wake rhyme and sun lamps help to reset it. Sun lamps have been recommended to help treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as well as improve the levels of melatonin in your body, which helps you sleep better. Studies show that using a 10,000 lux bulb for 30 minutes every morning can improve your mood in 2-4 days. But keep in mind that using a sun lamp does not impact your body's production of vitamin D. You still need exposure to real sunlight to improve that, or take a supplement each day. You can read more about sun lamps here.
I personally love my lamp and how it has different light intensities to it and a timer. I usually keep it on my face while I brush my teeth and get dressed.
When you think of sleep supplements, you most likely think of melatonin. I don’t hate melatonin and I do use it every now and then (it gives me crazy dreams though, last time I used it I was getting arrested by Harry Styles at a foot ball game) but I have a supplement that I prefer better for sleep and overall health.
Magnesium is a nutrient that regulates different body processes and it basically helps your body relax. It helps reduce stress and helps you sleep longer. It’s important to know that it’s not like melatonin which is a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Research shows that a lack of magnesium in the body can impact a person’s sleep, sleep quality, and even be a factor of insomnia. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 48% of Americans do not get enough daily magnesium. As always this can be obtained by eating a balanced diet including green leafy vegetables, yogurt, nuts and more. There are also supplements for magnesium and the proper dosage varies per person. If you would like to read more about magnesium you can here. As always consult with your healthcare provider to determine which supplement is right for you.
4. Set Limits on Technology (Reduce Blue Light Exposure in the Evening )
Setting limits on technology in the evening can be beneficial to your sleep. This one can be hard to follow, especially when we have people to text and Tiktoks to watch. I used to think phones at night were bad because they keep your brain busy, but the science goes much deeper than that.
Phones and computers emit blue light in large quantities. Blue light basically tricks your body into thinking its daytime. This can effect your circadian rhythm and reduces your body’s production of hormones like melatonin which helps you fall into a deep restful sleep. You can see it does have a pretty big effect on sleep. You can read more about it here and here.
One way to tackle this is by wearing a pair of blue light glasses while you scroll or type away. They are pretty cheap (most are not even $10 a pair) and they come in tons of cute shapes and styles. There are also apps on both iPhones and Androids that block blue light on your phone.
Lastly, research shows that the proper time period to turn off any bright lights and TVs is two hours before you go to sleep (Ouch, but we can start small right ?).
5. Include Physical Activity in Your Daily Routine.
This last one is just what you would expect to see on a blog run by a personal trainer right? Well I saved the best for last, because it’s true. Exercise is one of the best science backed ways to improve your sleep. Don’t believe me? Then check this out, or this, or this. Studies show that exercise is better to be performed during the day and not too close to bedtime for optimal results. Exercise is stimulating to the body, so if you workout too close to bedtime, you will have increased alertness and hormones such as adrenaline pumping throughout your body.
I wish everyone the best getting their rest and sleep this coming winter, you all deserve to have a good nights sleep. I hope that you can take and implement at least one tip from this article to help you out on your sleep journey! Follow on Instagram for more content like this: @HappyHippieFitness_
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