13 Simple Ways to Upgrade Your Sleep

Image from Kevin Dooley

Image from Kevin Dooley

Often overlooked, getting a good night’s sleep is vital for recovery, and improving how your body and mind function throughout the day.

As a part of my mission to investigate health, over the past few months I’ve been experimenting with a few different ideas to see what works for me, and what doesn’t.

Here’s a list of 13 things that you could try, to upgrade your sleep quality and get the most out of your day.

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13 Ways to Upgrade Your Sleep

1. Meditate during the day.

If you’re someone who is constantly living inside their own mind, and struggles to sleep due to constant racing thoughts, regular mediation practice could help significantly. Over time it allows you to quiet your mind more easily, and achieve deep sleep much quicker.

2. Try to avoid intense exercise a few hours before bed.

When I was training BJJ regularly, the buzz felt after a good evening class would inevitably carry on for quite a few hours, and often I would struggle to get to sleep. I can get away with low intensity stuff no problem, but anything that raises my heart rate and adrenaline levels too high is no good for me before bed.

3. Practice some gentle yoga just before bed.

I’ve found that doing some yoga or light stretching really helps me wind down  and gets me in a mindful state where I’m ready to relax and drift into sleep.

4. Read a little.

Reading a few chapters of fiction just before bed is a great way to quieten the mind. Intense non-fiction can have the opposite effect on me, so I save that for during the day.

5. Focus on your breath.

This goes back to number 1. When you’re lying there, anytime you find your thoughts racing, bring your attention back to your breath, and the present moment. This also applies to any other time during the day, not just when you’re trying to drop off.

6. Invest in a memory foam mattress topper.

My girlfriend has one of these, and when I stay at hers I sleep like a baby; so I’ve recently invested in one in the sale. Something to do with its visco-elastic properties, or something like that…

7. Turn off the electronics and bright screens at least an hour before bed. 

This has been quite a big one for me. Staring at a glaring bright screen for hours then suddenly attempting to sleep can really confuse your primate body and mind. Natural light fades gradually, not instantly. If you really can’t avoid the night time electronics, you can download a free program called flux that adjusts your screen brightness to match the outside light.

8. Stop working a few hours before bed.

Sometimes I have to stop myself writing in the evening; otherwise my mind will carry on racing against my will, as I try my best to get to sleep. Again though, if it’s unavoidable, bring it back to numbers 1 and 5, and you should be fine.

9. Black out the light.

I’ve found that my sleep definitely improves when I pull my black blinds down and make sure to turn off anything with a standby light. You can get simple portable blackout covers quite cheaply, and they’re definitely worth the investment.

10. Get more than 8 hours.

For me, I feel that I function more effectively after sleeping around 9-10 hours, depending on how active I’ve been during the day. This will vary from person to person. Some can get away with much less, so do what’s best for you.

11. Oxygenate your room. T

This is something I’m starting to experiment with after reading this great article by Martijn Schirp a few weeks back. He explains how you can use certain plants such as Mother-in-law’s Tongue and Japanese Peace Lilies to create a more natural, clean, oxygen rich environment.

12. Wake up naturally.

This is something I’ve yet to try, but many people find using a natural light lamp alarm like this one wakes you up more gradually, and better prepares you for the day, compared to the sudden blaring noise of a normal alarm clock.

13. Try some herbal remedies.

I’ve recently started brewing liquorice root tea to help sooth my mouth ulcers whenever they flare up, and noticed that I’ve also started to sleep much better. Other commonly reported remedies include chamomile and valerian root. The science isn’t really there yet tough, so maybe proceed with a bit of caution…

 Sleep well.

 If you have any tips or tricks that you like to use to improve your sleep, feel free to share in the comments section below.

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