How do you sleep? Are you a log? A yearner? A starfish, a soldier or a free-faller? Statistically speaking, you’re probably a foetus, according to research on sleep positions conducted by Britain’s Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service. When it comes to your overall health, however, your sleep position isn’t nearly as important as the quality and quantity of the shut-eye you get.
If you can’t sleep more than a few hours, keep reading for tips on how to sleep more effectively.
How much sleep is enough?
The U.S.-based National Sleep Foundation recently released a “Recommended Sleep” chart. For guys between ages 26 and 65, there are no surprises: You’re looking at 7 to 9 hours as your ideal sleeping window.
The 10 golden rules of solid sleep
The good news: There are plenty of easy tips on how to sleep longer and how to sleep more soundly.
- Keep the bedroom exclusive
The bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleep and sex. Ban the TV, smartphone and computer, are of which all stimulating, and read a book or magazine instead.
- Keep it clean
The bedroom, not necessarily the sex. A clean sleeping space helps induce slumber.
- Cool down
The bedroom should be cooler than the rest of your home, about 15-18 degrees Celsius.
- Let darkness reign
The human body is programmed to wake when it’s light and sleep when it’s night. Keep the bedroom dark and cover the bright lights of any electronics.
- Nix the booze
Don’t be fooled by alcohol’s sedative effects – they actually thwart a good night’s sleep.
- Curtail spicy food
Heavily spiced food, or even a heavy meal, can also disturb sleep.
- Eliminate stimulants
Coffee, tea and nicotine will wreck your sleep patterns, so switch to decaffeinated drinks in the afternoon and nix the cigarettes. Even chocolate, which contains a stimulant similar to caffeine, can hinder a good night’s slumber.
Being physically tired helps you sleep, but exercise a few hours before bedtime does the opposite because it boosts your adrenaline levels.
- Stick to a routine
If you go to bed at about same time every night, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. A wild weekend can throw your sleep routine off.
- Limit the water you drink before bed
Drinking too much water right before bed will have you up to use the bathroom during the night, disrupting your sleep. Make a point of drinking water throughout the day to avoid feeling thirsty when it’s time to sleep.
Sleep notes tell the tale
If you’re wondering where your own sleep needs fit into all this, try keeping sleep notes. Simply write down when you go to bed and when you wake up each morning, and then take a minute to assess your mood when you first get up and a few times throughout the day. If you’re irritable or finding it hard to concentrate, try setting your bedtime back by half an hour for a week. If you’re feeling rested and ready to kick ass and take names, you’ve found your ideal sleep zone.
Don’t skimp on sleep
If we don’t get the proper Zs there can be some serious health consequences: lower testosterone — which can lead to erectile dysfunction — poor concentration, and even stroke. A lack of sleep can also prevent your body from healing itself, which in turn has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. The benefits of proper sleep, meanwhile, include improved self-control and focus, a lower risk of depression, and a reduction in body fat. Plus, getting enough sleep keeps your appetite in check. Last but definitely not least, sleep can help you live longer, as it has also been shown to reduce stress, which can help lower your blood pressure.
Are you trying to get more and better sleep? If so, we’ve got your back!
Download the free “How to Rule the Bedroom” ebook right now.
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.