The Top 3 Tips to a Better Night’s Sleep
Once again, our friends over at Men Talking Mindfulness Podcast are dropping knowledge bombs–this time with sleep expert, Dr. Nita Shattuck, professor at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and faculty member of the NPS Human Systems Integration Program.
All plants and animals, including humans, have a circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is the natural sleep-wake cycle we go through roughly every 24 hours. These natural processes occur primarily in response to light and dark.
When we start ignoring that natural cycle, either by choice (binging that TV show late at night), or by the necessity of shift work, then we become more prone to illness, mood problems, and poor decision making. One study found that the body heals more slowly and is more likely to get injured when only sleeping 5 hours per night and below as compared to 7+ hours.
For optimal health, we need at least 7 hours of sleep. However, for high level performance upwards of 7-9 hours is required. While sleep banking (napping), can help make up for a poor night’s sleep, it is not a long term solution for your sleep health. The first half of the night is where physical recovery happens, and the second half of the night is where mental recovery occurs. When we start cutting into this recovery time, our body and mind will suffer.
3 Tips to a Better Night’s Sleep
#1 Optimize your environment! Humans sleep best in a cool (62-65 degrees), dark, and quiet room. Using an eye mask and a fan or white noise machine can go a long way for helping you sleep better.
#2 Reduce your exposure to bright, artificial light. Use a dimmer for your lights, keep the TV off a couple hours before bedtime, and keep devices out of the bedroom.
#3 If your mind is racing when you lie down to sleep or when you wake up throughout the night, try keeping a pen and paper on your night stand to write down the things that are on your mind. You can also try some mindful breathing to quiet the mind.